Community school plan is forcing other issues

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 21, 2004

[12/19/04]The return to community schools for the Vicksburg Warren School District won’t come until August, but the changes are already in motion.

Two topics to which district officials are paying particular attention are Bowmar Avenue’s registration and whether Bovina Elementary School will be reopened.

Bowmar registration again will be on a Saturday in March, but it will move to the district’s Instructional Offices on Mississippi 27.

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“So many parents spend the night before, it will be easier for us to ensure a safe and orderly environment at Instructional Services than at Bowmar,” said Superintendent James Price.

And officials are working out the kinks for another issue that the return to community schools presents for former Bowmar students.

Administrators will send out a letter in January to parents with students who attended Bowmar in the fourth grade but are approaching the age to attend an intermediate school.

“There are 61 students who went to fourth grade at Bowmar and moved to the fifth grade at either Vicksburg Intermediate or Warren Central Intermediate,” Price said. “Those students have the option to return to Bowmar for the sixth grade.”

“And if parents want to send the child back to Bowmar, they have the option, if they have a child entering kindergarten to send that child to Bowmar also.”

Price said returning students who attended Bowmar in the fourth grade is the only way to build the school’s sixth-grade class because the school has no zone lines. It draws from the entire district.

Under the community school plan, no siblings will be split any longer.

“One of the problems with having the intermediate schools was that it imposed a real burden for parents to have to go to two different locations to pick up children.”

And reopening Bovina is another possibility with the return to community schools. The school was closed along with four others under the School Choice plan in 1999.

Reopening the school’s doors as an elementary was brought up by Price, but was not included in the plan approved by the U.S. Justice Department to return the district to community schools.

The issue was dropped until the days leading up to the November election of two new board members.

District 1 Trustee Jerry Boland said then that if the classroom space is needed, “by all means, we need to open it back up.” And Tommy Shelton, who won the District 5 seat, said he’d be willing to revisit the issue.

“After listening to the candidates, it became apparent that the reopening of Bovina would become a topic of discussion in January” when the two take office, Price said. “In preparing for the initiative, we have run student rosters with and without Bovina so that as soon as we get a definite decision from the board, we can act immediately.”

Price said if the board votes to reopen Bovina, an amendment to the plan would be sent to the justice department.

The school district has nearly 9,000 students, about half of whom are enrolled in grades K-6.