A new law aimed at stopping so-called “failure factories” could ensnare two Leon County Schools. But Superintendent Rocky Hanna says he’s got no intention of handing over control of either Pineview Elementary or Oakridge.
Hanna says he expected for Pineview Elementary School’s grade to be lower this year. The school got a new administrative team in the middle of the school year. The old principal resigned after forging parent surveys. But Hanna didn’t anticipate Pineview would get an “F” grade. It got a “C” last year.
“I don’t know if it was a combination of a sudden leadership change, teachers wondering what would happen with their career, kids not understanding what happened," he says. "I just think it was the perfect storm with that school this year.”
A new law increases its chance of being taken over by private management. And Oakridge Elementary School, which received its third consecutive “D” grade, is in the same boat. Hanna says he will fight any attempt to convert the schools into charters in court. Yet the district’s Gillian Gregory explains there’s a chance it won’t come to that if the schools can show they’re making progress.
“We don’t really need to look at those options probably for a semester or so. And by then we’ll have a sense of [what the] student achievement, data and progress monitoring is showing us,” she says.
Pineview and Oakridge’s performance this year falls under the so-called “Schools of Hope” law. It was a response to some schools receiving low ratings for years, despite numerous attempts by districts to intervene. Jefferson County was forced by the state to consolidate its schools and contract with a private operator after nearly a decade of poor academic performance. This year, Jefferson’s elementary and middle school improved their grade to a “C”. While the district’s high school earned a “B”. Jefferson’s schools are run by charter school operator Somerset Academy, which has been designated as a “School of hope” by the state. That designation comes with additional funding and exemptions to charter schools that takeover or set up near failing traditional public schools.