Planning committee meets to begin making concrete’ Vision 20/20′ plans

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JACKSON, Tenn. — The Jackson-Madison County School Board said they have listened to parents’ concerns and they are trying to make the suggestions a reality. That includes the possibility of having K-8 schools, and the future of some of Jackson’s historic facilities. Members of the long-range planning committee gathered Monday night to get specific about ‘Vision 20/20’. “I think this work the board is doing is intensive, and it’s going to require a very clear plan on how we’re going to implement it once the board votes and we have to be able to deliver,” Dr. Verna Ruffin said. Committee members talked costs associated with repurposing schools, including building costs. They talked about how much the system would pay for student transportation. “Until now, it hasn’t been talked about,” Dave Bratcher said, concerning the possible repurposing and shutting down of high schools. The discussion about the future of Jackson Central-Merry and Liberty Tech was pushed to a further meeting so they could take a closer look at the zoning numbers. “I have noticed when change comes, it impacts JCM disproportionately,” Gwendolyn Coleman said, who has taught in the system for more than 40 years. Some brought up safety challenges which could come out of merging these schools. “If you bring Liberty and JCM together, you’re bringing together gangs that need to be separated. In fact, they need to be alleviated altogether, but you also have to look at the reality,” Morris Merriweather said, who is a former administrator for the district. For some in the community, they are hoping the board thinks about class size before combining high schools. “The big high schools, that’s a 1960’s model, and middle schools all across the country are going back to the K-8 model,” Brent Lay said, a former director of juvenile court. He has a plan laid out called the Community-Based School Plan. Dr. Verna Ruffin said even when a concrete ‘Vision 20/20’ plan is laid out, the work is just beginning. “In December, it’ll be ‘now you know’, and from that point, ‘now you have to do this,” Ruffin explained. Dr. Ruffin said one way parents can help in the board’s decisions is through a survey which will be coming out soon. It will address the community’s interest in a K-8 model, and they will be depending on that feedback to make some decisions.

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