Dr. Ruffin Meets with Community, Answers Questions
JACKSON, Tenn — Jackson-Madison County Schools Superintendent Dr. Verna Ruffin held two packed meetings, Thursday. The first, a school board meeting followed by the first of three community forums, hosted by Dr. Ruffin. Standing before hundreds of parents and teachers, Dr. Ruffin said she wants to set the record straight. “We’re not going to agree all the time. But if you don’t come to the table and talk with me and I’m not willing to talk with you, we’re never going to agree that both of us are concerned about children,” Dr. Ruffin said. Dr. Ruffin addressed the district’s budget, then opened the floor for questions, which ranged from textbook concerns, to school safety, to whether JCM is closing, which Ruffin answered “no.” At the school board meeting earlier in the day, dozens of teachers and custodial workers sat in to hear what the board had to say. The Jackson Madison County Education Association President Jeffrey Davis said teachers, including the instructional coaches who may not have jobs in the fall, want answers. “They were concerned that they’d received a letter saying they were terminated and not that there were any contingencies they would be able to go to different schools,” Davis said. He said the letter simply states their jobs end June 30 and is not clear if they can apply for other positions. Some school board members said they do not like the way the instructional coaches were treated. “Telling people your employment ends here when our intent was to keep them and find them positions, I think we really put people through a lot of ringers,” Bob Alvey, one of the school board members, said. “We are sincerely sorry for the confusion and anxiety that we have caused by handling that the way we did,” Chairman Jim Campbell said. Dr. Ruffin also told the board she does not want laid-off custodial workers to go a day without pay. She said she talked to contractor GCA to ensure they are hired immediately after their last day with the district. They also discussed Northeast Middle School’s design for the fall, where the new Academic Excellence School will be.