By Denise Dick
Next year will see restructured schools and programs for the city school district for the second time in three years.
The changes are in response to shrinking enrollment and a projected deficit.
“We can’t continue to do what we’re doing,” Superintendent Connie Hathorn said at an Academic Distress Commission meeting Thursday.
The commission was appointed by the state to guide the district out of academic distress.
“We’re looking at some buildings that are in academic emergency and academic watch,” Hathorn said.
Six buildings — Harding Elementary, P. Ross Berry Academy, University Project Learning Center, Volney Rogers Academy, Wilson Academy and East High schools — are in either academic watch or academic emergency, according to the most recent state report card.
Hathorn said the changes are still being worked out. He plans to unveil the new structure at a special commission meeting at 2 p.m. March 6 at the district administration building on Wood Street.
The restructured schools and programs would offer students and parents more choices in how they prepare for college and careers. Offering more choices to students is one of the strategies outlined in the commission’s Academic Recovery Plan for the district.
Last school year marked the first year that Chaney, formerly a traditional high school, became a visual and performing arts and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics school for students in sixth through 12th grades.
The commission met at Harding as part of its plan to visit each of the schools in either academic watch or emergency on the last report card.
Principal Susan Koulianos, in her first year at the school, said discipline infractions have been reduced by 60 percent from the previous year, students are showing improvement and instruction time has been increased in a effort to improve student achievement.
She credited the school staff for its hard work.
Commission Chairwoman Adrienne O’Neill said the dedication shows. The level of work is rigorous and students are engaged, she said.
“This is an exciting building,” the chairwoman said.