Some city council members voiced their opinions about the state takeover of the Yazoo City Municipal School District this week. And all were in agreement that it could be “a good thing.”
“To me, I feel like it is a good thing because the politics will be moved out of the way,” said Alderman Sir Johnathan Rucker, during Monday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting. “Hopefully, our kids will be able to be educated and we will receive the adequate things that we need to run this school district the right way.”
The Mississippi State Board of Education voted earlier this month to place the Humphreys County and Yazoo City school districts in the state’s first Achievement School District, which will launch in the 2019-20 school year.
And the Yazoo City Municipal School Board will be disbanded by June.
The SBE selected Humphreys and Yazoo City to form the first ASD because, together, they have the largest number of students enrolled in F-rated schools and they are located in the same region.
Rucker said he has heard that many within the community are skeptical about the state takeover. But he said the fear of losing extracurricular activities and athletics does not fall under the new state law.
Rucker said the state takeover should be considered potentially positive for the community, considering the local district has been graded as failing for several years.
“We have had it for years, and we haven’t’ done anything with it,” Rucker said. “I look at it as help coming in to help us get the things that we want.”
After a national search, the state hired Jermall Wright, Ed.D., to lead Mississippi’s first ASD. Wright currently serves as chief academic and accountability officer for Birmingham City Schools and previously served in state and district leadership roles at the Alabama State Department of Education, the School District of Philadelphia (PA) and Denver Public Schools.
Rucker said he met with Wright, who he said is not going to look at it “as a state takeover.”
“Let’s look at it as a collaboration for this community to come together so that we can get (the district) back,” Rucker said. “My hope is that, when we do get our schools back, that Yazoo City would do what we are supposed to do to make sure that we are putting the right people in place to educate our children.”
Rucker said he is tired of hearing some citizens as saying “it is about our kids.” He added that is not always the case with personal agendas.
“That is just cliché now,” he said. “Some of us don’t mean it. I look at our Parks and Recreation. We are not even giving them the adequate funding that they need. But it is about our kids.”
Rucker also said a rally organized by a citizen to be held Wednesday is not sponsored by the state. He said the state will hold an informative meeting for citizens at a later date.
“It is election season,” Rucker said. “You will see a whole lot of things pop up.”
Alderman Aubry Brent Jr. said it is not “rocket science” as to why the local district landed in this situation. He said with a majority of uncertified teachers, the district was not moving ahead academically.
Mayor Diane Delaware said she hopes that the community will join into the new direction in an effort to produce successful results.
“Each of us need to take a look in the mirror and consider what we can do,” she said. “Ask yourself whether you will work with and not against the Achievement District.”