Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Academy at Cuthbertson

The message below was sent to all Cuthberston High School parents that are signed up to receive the CHS electronic newsletter on Sunday August 1, 2010. This communication outlined a new program proposed by UCPS Superintendent Dr. Ed Davis.

I have tried to compile the following details as presented at UCPS Curriculum/Education Committee's 6 PM Meeting on Tuesday August 3, 2010. 

This program was initiated by Dr. Davis and Dr. Mary Ellis, along with collaboration by Dr. Mike Webb (staff members of UCPS). It is designed to identify a number of students that have entered into UCPS's alternate learning program who have been suspended long term, but are not deemed the most severely violent offenders. The program enables these students earn 4 credits (rather than 2 under the previous program structure) while suspended and graduate on time. Previously, long-term suspended students in the altrnate learning program were not categorized by the severity or nature of their offense and all were served at South Providence School campus, even though they are not South Providence School students, and remain students of their home school. Due to over crowding at South Providence School, the idea was hatched to send these not-so-violent students to a school that was under capacity and would have seats available. Cuthbertson High School was chosen because there is an empty wing and hence was the program was named: "The Academy at Cuthbertson". Cuthbertson High Class of 2011's approximately 253 rising seniors had hoped to have this wing designated as their hall, but if Dr. Davis proceeds with this proposed program, approximately 15 students will occupy the entire wing.  

The Academy at Cuthbertson

I am very excited about a brand-new program being introduced this year by our school system. I have just received permission to share information about the program with our school community. This program has not been approved by the School Board. It is scheduled to be presented to the School Board on Tuesday night. Typically, information about a proposed program is not shared until it has been approved. Unfortunately, several rumors and false information are being shared by well-meaning, but misinformed community members. Please allow me to take a moment to share with you what this program is and what it is not.

Our Superintendent, and indeed our entire staff, share a focus on improving our graduation rate. Currently, the system’s graduation rate is about 84%. The state average is approximately 69%. Last year, the system started a new program in each of the high schools called the Career Academy. This program gave hope to students who were at serious risk of dropping-out from school. Through this program, three CHS students graduated last year despite our not having a senior class. It made a difference in their individual lives, but it also made a difference in our community’s life as drop-outs can be a serious drain on our economy and are at more risk of becoming incarcerated.

The new Cuthbertson Academy was put together with this same philosophy, to offer hope and help to students who have made a poor choice and have been long-term suspended. This program IS NOT for students who have been assigned to the Alternative School. Those students will still be housed at South Providence. This program will not permit entry into the program by violent students, nor those who have brought a weapon to school, nor those who have made a bomb threat. The program is in place for a student from the time they are long-term suspended until the end of the semester. It will not have permanent students. It is being set-up to reach out to a group that has not been served in a school setting, during the school day, in the past. These students will have the opportunity to work with their teachers and earn credits, keeping them from falling behind and being at risk to drop-out of school.

In a nutshell, students from each of the regular High Schools in Union County (including CHS) who have been long-term suspended (but not for the reasons listed above) will be eligible. Last year the total number who would have qualified was approximately 35 students. (We do not anticipate more than 15 students in the program at any one time.) If approved, the students will ride the South Providence buses to South Providence where they will pass through a metal detector as the other students there do. At that time they will board a bus to ride to CHS arriving after our students are already in class. They will enter directly into our unused G-Wing. They will not pass through any other portion of the building. Throughout the day, they will be confined to G-Wing. G-Wing will be kept locked, denying traffic from our building into this space and traffic from G-Wing into the rest of the building. Their lunch will be delivered to them. They will not go to our Media Center, Gym, or any other areas outside of G-Wing. I do not foresee a time when CHS students and staff will see the students in this program, nor will there be opportunities to interact with them. At the end of the day, they will leave before CHS dismissal to ride the bus back to South Providence.

This program will be staffed by South Providence. It will not utilize any CHS personnel or resources other than the empty G-Wing. (After the students have left, the Assistant Principal assigned to the program will assist our administrators at night helping to cover night events.) I am excited about this program and look forward to watching as it makes a difference in the lives of children.

The safety of our students and staff is my paramount concern. I do not believe that this program’s presence on our campus in any way impacts the safety and well-being of our students and staff. As the parent of a rising CHS student, I can tell you that I am confident that my son is safe in our building regardless of whether this program is present or not.

Finally, please allow me to address the issue of the metal detector. An old metal detector has been in storage at Weddington High School for some time. In coordination with Mr. Breedlove, WHS Principal, I agreed to store it at CHS. There are no current plans to utilize it either for the new program or for our school.

If you have any questions at all about this proposed new program or our school in general, please email me, contact me via Facebook, or give me a call at the school. Enjoy the last few days of summer and get ready…it’s going to be a phenomenal year!

Rob Jackson
704-296-0105 Work