Polk County fights to keep schools open

Turning around schools in Polk County

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WTSP) -- After five of its schools were singled out by the Florida Department of Education for poor performance, Polk County Schools on Monday shared new plans to submit to the state to keep the schools in good standing.

According to Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd, in October, the district will submit an addendum to a plan already turned over to the state that focuses on placing more effective teachers in the five schools by the end of the year, and offering more support for teachers and principals as they work on student performance.

District leaders also said at a news conference on Monday morning that they will bring in an academic management company to help assess what needs to be done to turn the schools around.

The five schools targeted by the state include Kathleen, Denison, Boone, Westwood and Lake Alfred-Addair middle schools.

10News WTSP's news partners at The Ledger report that the state has already approved plans for Kathleen, Denison and Boone under the condition that more teachers are moved around as necessary.

Polk County Schools are also calling on the community to step in and help by volunteering, becoming a student mentor, or leveraging business contacts to form partnerships with the schools.

Public defender Rex Dimmig chimed in, emphasizing the importance education plays in giving kids a path to success and keeping them out of trouble.

"Children who do not succeed in school find themselves helpless in today's job market. And that helplessness leads to hopelessness on their part," said Dimmig. "And unfortunately far too often, leads them to my office. We cannot, we will not let these schools or any school in Polk County fail."

Community leaders already involved say they need more help, and will do whatever it takes to keep the schools open.

"No matter what, no matter where we go, these schools will not close over my dead body," said Doug Lockwood of the Public Education Partnership of Winter Haven, Inc.

To find out how you can help, contact your specific school or Leah Lauderdale at 863-534-0698.

Emerald Morrow is a reporter with 10News WTSP. Like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. You can also email her at emorrow@wtsp.com.

 

(© 2016 WTSP)


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