RMHS campus to become middle school starting in 2013-14 school year
December 5, 2011Rocky Mount High School
By Michele A. Cruz, Nashville Graphic
NASHVILLE - The Nash-Rocky Mount Schools (NRMS) student attendance zones will be redrawn to take effect in the 2013-14 school year due to reduce overcrowded schools.
The board approved the recommendations of the administration at their meeting last Monday night, which sets in motion the work of Operations Research and Education Laboratory (ORED) to provide assistance in creating attendance zones according to the system’s goals.
Dr. Anthony Jackson, NRMS superintendent, said the new Rocky Mount High School will open in 2012-13 with the current students enrolled. The administration studied all possible uses for the current RMHS building, he shared with the board, and decided to use it as a sixth middle school that will open in 2013-14.
Jackson said when a school is at 90 percent capacity, usually planning for a new facility begins. Of the four middle schools, two are currently over capacity, and the other two are over 90 percent.
Bob Jenkins, NRMS board chairman, said he felt the students most needing relief from overcrowding and mobile unit usage are at the elementary school level. Of the 16 elementary schools, seven are currently at or over capacity, three are at or over 90 percent capacity, and three are at or over 85 percent.
"We shouldn’t put blinders on,” he said. “We need to see if there is more need at the elementary level.”
High school attendance numbers show three of the four over capacity and the fourth is over 90 percent as well.
But Jackson said the administration’s decision to use the current RMHS for a new middle school centers on setting a capacity range of 500-750 students per middle school, removing most or all mobile units at the middle school level, and providing pathways into current high school programs such as international baccalaureate, career-technical education academies, early college, advanced placement, dual enrollment, and others.
He said that creating smaller middle schools with an average class size of 25 would bring more parent involvement, easier security and discipline, more student mastery of curriculum, greater academic achievement, and better interpersonal relationships.
As the board plans to use the building for a new middle school, attendance lines for all students will be redrawn to create a feeder school system. Projected student population capacities at the middle schools would change to 600 at Nash Central (potential enrollment difference of +7), 600 at Edwards (-140), 500 at Parker (+74), 750 at Red Oak (-176), 750 at Southern Nash (-342), and 650 at the new Rocky Mount.
A division reassignment committee will be formulated from staff and the community, Jackson said, which may include principals, parents, residents, administration, and representatives from Nash and Edgecombe counties as well as the city of Rocky Mount. This committee will “build consensus on board priority for the outcome of redistricting,” he said, “and engage ORED to begin the demographic work.”
The goal for the committee, he said, would be to implement the new attendance zones for the 2013-14 school year. The committee will begin meetings in January 2012 and present final scenarios for board approval by June 2012, he said.
Jackson summarized the board’s priorities for attendance zone lines, which are to maintain contiguous boundaries, respect neighborhoods, consider school proximity, modify feeder system, utilize enrollment capacities, and maintain enrollment balance. He also said that Senate Bill 612, which has been in effect for at least 20 years, must also be kept in mind, which concerns racial balance for NRMS middle and high schools. Southern Nash High is exempt from this bill, Jenkins said.