The Jamestown Revolt (and Belton responds)

https://i2.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/boe/images/belton.JPG Jeff Belton’s comments at last week’s GCS Board meeting in which he mentioned the “R” word (redistricting) as it related to a WAYYY-overdue, newly-built Jamestown Middle School have certainly ruffled some feathers over the past few days.

I’m going to reference the ongoing hot-and-heavy discussion over on the News & Record’s Chalkboard blog as a starting point.

The image “https://i1.wp.com/schoolcenter.gcsnc.com/images/pageitems/p748493547_5403.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Let’s catch you up to date…the issue came as part of a discussion in which the final touches are being put on the nearly-half-a-billion-dollar bond referendum on next May’s ballot…which happens to be the same ballot my name will appear on (see previous coverage here). Belton asked Board member Anita Sharpe what she thought of a smaller Jamestown Middle School and what the community might think of it (BTW, a new Jamestown Middle was promised in the 2003 bond issue, it was never built). Sharpe said “outrage.”

And I’m okay with that response, seeing as though I didn’t really know where Sharpe’s head was at with respect to this and other issues.
But Belton also suggested part of the Jamestown Middle’s attendance zone could be redistricted to the old-Allen Jay Middle in south High Point while a new Jamestown Middle is under construction. And keep in mind that Allen Jay Middle is undergoing some renovations as well. That “R” word caused the crap-storm.

And since I’m a new Jamestowner, I’m right in the middle of the storm.

See some of the exchange on the Chalkboard:

Wally World said:

I think that Mr. Belton and the others should have a community meeting in Jamestown to solicit the community’s thoughts on this. Lets’ see, they diverted the bond funds away from Jamestown to other more important projects, even though Jamestown was listed on the bond when it was submitted to voters for approval. They then promised Jamestown that their school would be priority on the next bond referendum, and now they are talking about redistricting because the school would be to big. What game is being played here? Is this a ploy to garner bond support in Jamestown?

Yes, they should have a community meeting in Jamestown. I suspect the good citizens there have something to say to Mr. Belton and the school board.

******************************

He’s right. It is past time to have a community meeting to talk about this.

Here’s more:

double doubtful said:

The image “https://i2.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/schools/elementary/jamestownelementary/JamestownElem.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. I’ve heard that Jamestown Elementary is out of control this year because of all the overflow while Union Hill is being built. Also heard a few weeks ago that the school didn’t have teachers for their specials.

A smaller Jamestown Middle is a better idea since that middle school is having behavior problems also.

https://i2.wp.com/www.gcsnc.com/boe/images/kearns1.jpg I must agree with Doubtful. The school board should have learned their lesson about messing with North HP and Jamestown. One by one the old board is being replaced. Dot’s turn will come in 2008 then most of the mission will be complete.

The school board should realize by now that NHP and Jamestown will continue to fight for their children. Their lives have been turned topsy turvy, their home values decreased…..they have nothing else the school board can do to them…..patriots are united more than ever and on standby to fight again

the underground has spoken; silent now but a strong, UNITED force to be dealt with

Score:

https://i0.wp.com/www.theyoungdemocrats.com/sykes.jpg marti gone
https://i0.wp.com/www.nwobserver.com/images/schools/rep2.jpg susie gone

johnny gone

slow, steady and united wins the race

***********************************

But Mr. Belton responded:

Jeff Belton said:

Perhaps what I did not make clear is what is my intention in asking this question about the size of Jamestown MIddle. The current Bond list was in large part, put together before Garth and I began service on the current BOE. I have, from my own experiences as a parent, concerns about the size of our school populations. I think that 1200 students in a middle school is too large. That is my personal opinion. Because it is my opinion, and not an issue that I had heard clear discussion about, I asked the question. Because I do respect the wishes of both parents and taxpayers, is precisely why I asked Jamestown Middle’s representative(Anita Sharpe) what she thought. That was not the first time I had mentioned this to Anita. If I were simply out to forward some agenda of my own, carelessly implementing what I think is best, I would not have asked for input from Anita. It is my intention to give this community one last chance to say what they want in a new school. Once we build the new school it will be too late to shrink its’ capacity.
I asked this question to give all parties involved an opportunity to be sure of what they want. I am uncomfortable in building such a large school, however, I have been an advocate of our school facilities for many years and understand the importance and validity of community input. I am seeking to foster that input. I have asked the staff to give the BOE and the community an idea of what a smaller Jamestown Middle might look like.
While a candidate for the BOE I stated repeatedly that the then BOE had erred in not prioritizing the 2003 Bond package. Leaving themselves open to justifiable criticism when those Bond projects were reduced, changed or altogether removed from the list.
I am aware that Northwest H.S. and Northwest Middle are by BOE standards and in my opinion too large. I am also aware that they have had significant academic success despite their size. If the Jamestown Middle community really wants a middle school with 1200 students to be their current and future size, then so be it. I will not oppose it.
Lastly, this discussion about Jamestown Middle does not change its’ position as the number one item on a prioritorized
[sic] bond list. I, nor do I think any Board member has any intention to change that number position for Jamestown Middle.
Yours,
Jeff

*****************************

To which, I responded this morning:

E.C. Huey said:

Mr. Belton: Thank you for your response. As you can see, a Jamestown revolt has started. I can understand your concerns about such a large middle school, and because the Board in general fails to properly plan for growth, our schools are getting larger. Failure to properly plan for growth in High Point resulted in the many rounds of redistricting GCS saw…and you saw the result.

Granted, our Jamestown area schools have weathered some recent challenges, but many good hard-working folks in this community believe and take stock in these schools, and I can assure you that they will not have them wrestled away in the name of politics.

As Jamestown…and High Point…and many parts of Greensboro and other parts of Guilford County continue to grow, our schools are going to have to grow with them. But it will take smart growth as it relates to our schools. Right now, as is, this bond does not have a chance. It’s dead. So if I were you, I would be putting collective heads together to see how we can get these facilities built…smartly and cheaply. The way Jamestown continues to grow, I feel as though another middle/high school is probably not too far off the horizon.

To strategize now is smart growth…and growing smartly. I still am a fan of K-8 schools and I know this is the way the county is thinking of traveling…so this is something to think about down the line…but the clock is ticking.

Any talk of redistricting will make people upset, me included. You cannot have this kind of discussion off-the-cuff, without any type of community-meeting or a wide-ranging discussion of some sort. Anita Sharpe properly described it…”outrage.”

I would be willing to sit down with you to discuss this and other issues with you over coffee, if you’re interested.

E.C.

*****************************

This story continues to develop. And we’ll keep watching.

E.C. 🙂

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2 Responses

  1. […] the Jamestown community’s a little worked up over the issue. The Chalkboard and E.C. Huey have […]

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