Education programs dropped at centers|[10/06/05]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 6, 2005

Educational programs offered at the Jackson Street and Kings’ centers have been dropped in Vicksburg’s new budget, with officials saying public schools will take over that role.

For the budget year that started Oct. 1, Vicksburg eliminated $401,590 from the centers which had offered an assortment of supplementary programs, including one for students who had been expelled or suspended from the Vicksburg Warren School District.

The funding cut does away with the Human Services Department jobs of overseeing the educational activities at the centers.

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North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said the city’s recreation department is going to take over the Jackson and Kings’ centers and the nine employees will have the opportunity to apply for jobs in other departments.

John Shorter, a Vicksburg resident and former mayoral candidate, protested the change, saying his child participated in the educational activities and that children may be on the streets without the services. That’s why the programs were begun in the first place.

&#8221These services are needed for children who fall between the cracks,“ Shorter said.

However, Mayor Laurence Leyens and Superintendent James Price of the VWSD said the schools now meet the needs. &#8221I’m not going to put them on the street,“ Price said.

He said that students who are suspended for more than nine days go before the discipline committee and then may be referred to the alternative school at Grove Street.

Price said the school system also has a good relationship with the Youth Court, which puts students with repetitive discipline problems in detention rather than on the streets.

Whether at Grove Street or even in the Youth Detention Center, Price said the students continue to be instructed by teachers.

Mayfield, a former VWSD parent of the year, said he thinks the school system is doing a good job keeping education in progress during disciplinary actions.

&#8221I think the school system is not going to make a mistake of letting these kids roam the streets,“ Mayfield said.

With the restructuring, Mayfield said the Jackson Street and Kings’ centers will be used primarily for recreational activities.

&#8221I think we’re going to have some really good programs,“ Mayfield said. He said the centers will offer programs for children, as well as adults of all ages.

No figures were given, but Mayfield also said the educational services were eliminated because there were not many students participating.