Polk putting top educators in charge of five schools at risk of shutting down

Posted at 4:36 PM, Aug 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-17 18:02:36-04

Polk County school administrators are spending more money and putting their best educators in charge of five schools at risk of shutting down if they don’t improve.

The district has released its new so-called “turn-around plan” that it submitted to the state. The Board of Education rejected the district’s first plan submitted earlier this summer.

The failing schools include Denison, Kathleen, Lake Alfred-Addair, Shelley S. Boone and Westwood Middle Schools.

“It’s not making me too happy,” said Monica Smith, whose son attends Kathleen Middle School.

She believes her son has actually shown great improvement in the last two years — going from D’s and F’s to A’s and B’s.

But unfortunately, he hasn’t helped the school’s average enough, and it’s still considered a “failing school” in the eyes of the state even though it was just shy of a C grade.

“I really hope that they don’t close this school down,” Smith said.

This week administrators submitted a new, 85-page plan with more specifics about what they are going to do to improve grades at the five middle schools in question.

“We have addressed every one of their concerns,” said Tony Bellamy, regional assistant superintendent. “We have done a lot to make sure that they have the absolute best.”

Part of the turn around plan is adding academy coaches and more teachers to the failing schools for one on one attention.

The district has also redirected more than a million dollars to the schools in need of extra resources.

On Thursday there will be a meeting for parents at each one of the schools:

  • Boone Middle, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., 225 S. 22nd Street, Haines City
  • Denison Middle, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., 400 Ave. A SE, Winter Haven
  • Kathleen Middle, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., 3627 Kathleen Pines Ave., Lakeland
  • Lake Alfred-Addair Middle, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., 925 N. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Alfred
  • Westwood Middle, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., 3520 Ave. J NW, Winter Haven