Officials: Pre-K consolidation proposal is cost neutral

mrice@ledger-enquirer.comApril 14, 2014 

The Muscogee County School District administration building is at 2960 Macon Road.


The superintendent's proposal to consolidate the 30 pre-kindergarten sites in the Muscogee County School District into nine "Early Success Centers" would better utilize facilities and improve the chances of delivering a quality program throughout the system, officials said at the board's work session Monday evening.

And it would be cost neutral and won't cost jobs, they said.

The board asked several clarification questions, but no member voiced opposition to superintendent David Lewis' recommendation. The board is scheduled to vote on it during next Monday's meeting.

The district's 50 pre-K classes comprise approximately 1,100 students. Those numbers are expected to remain the same even if the proposal is approved.

The academic benefits of the "Early Success Centers" officials mentioned include more opportunities for pre-K teachers to receive professional development, mentoring and coaching, and collaborate on planning lessons and analyzing data. Consolidation also would allow administrators to visit classrooms more often for teacher evaluation and better monitor implementation of the state's new pre-K curriculum.

"We're excited that this model will strengthen the educational foundation for our youngest students," said Terry Baker, the district's elementary education director.

Baker oversees the district's pre-K program, but Lewis' proposal includes creating a pre-K director position, which he said would be funded through his yet-to-be completed reorganization of the central office staff.

The consolidation would combine 10 pre-K sites into three schools in each of the district's three regions. This would shift pre-K students into schools that are under capacity or already experiencing growth. So the district's pre-K system would look like this:

West Region

• Allen, North Columbus and River Road would merge into Double Churches.

• Hannan, Johnson and Thirtieth Avenue would merge into Fox.

• Downtown and Wynnton would merge into Davis.

Central Region

• Blanchard would merge into Eagle Ridge.

• Brewer, Clubview and Gentian would merge into Rigdon Road.

• Cusseta Road, Key, Martin Luther King Jr. and Muscogee would merge into South Columbus. Cusseta and Muscogee elementary schools are closing at the end of this school year and will form Dorothy Height Elementary, which is under construction.

East Region

• Midland would merge into Mathews.

• Reese Road, Waddell and Wesley Heights would merge into Forrest Road.

• Dawson, Dimon, Georgetown and St. Marys Road would merge into Lonnie Jackson.

District 1 representative Pat Hugley Green said all pre-K classes "should look the same, but they really don't look the same."

Baker responded, "This would ensure these things are consistent throughout the district."

Green added, "That's important because some pre-K students come out being ready, and so do not."

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272. Follow Mark on Twitter


Superintendent David Lewis has scheduled three public forums to explain and answer questions about his "Early Success Centers" proposal, which will consolidate the Muscogee County School District's pre-kindergarten sites from 30 schools into nine:

• April 15: Eagle Ridge Academy, 6 p.m.

• April 23: Rigdon Road Elementary, 6 p.m.

• April 30: South Columbus Elementary, 6 p.m.

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