GAINESVILLE - Gainesville School Board members Monday night tabled until January, 2014 any action on recommendations concerning Woods Mill Academy; School Superintendent Merrianne Dyer says students need time to understand the changes.
Dr. Dyer's recommendation calls for closing the Woods Mill Academy program school code at year's end and opening the Gainesville Global and Advanced Studies Academy but she said it's not a closing, it's changing for the better.
"We think we have the opportunity to keep the things that we value and to improve upon it," Dr. Dyer said. "However, the students need time to understand that and that is why the Board said let's discuss it and get more information out to them."
Board member Sammy Smith made the motion to table proposed changes at the Wood's Mill Campus, saying he wanted time for community meetings and governance council meetings. Board member Willie Mitchell said he wanted information about the Wood's Mill changes to get out to the public to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion.
Concern about impact surfaced first from Wood's Mill senior Salena Young, who said she was getting a good education there.
"You have one on one learning and we understand better in the classroom," Young said. "It's giving students a second chance; I messed up a lot the first time and my second chance was at Wood's Mill. It changed me and it made me a better person."
Phyllis Brewer, president of the local N-Double-A-C-P, asked the Board if the community would have any input on the changes at Wood's Mill Academy.
"I would like very much to see the community have some sort if input," she said.
Dr. Delores Diaz, presiding over the meeting, told Brewer the best parts of Wood's Mill would continue.
"I expect that we're going to keep the best parts of what is already there," Dr. Diaz said. "The individual attention, the special programs, the blended learning the online learning, all of those things that are helping the students succeed, those are the things we want to keep."
Dr. Dyer explained that the only change is in the code, from a school code to a program code and the students' experience and the services they receive would remain the same with no change.
"When you close a school officially with a code only, it might not be understood by the students; they think you're closing the school," Dyer said. "What's really happening is we're expanding on the programs at the school. We're expanding it to include a middle year's program of International Baccalaureate. That will benefit those high school students as well as the middle school students who might choose to go there for the program."
The proposed new name, the 'Gainesville Global and Advanced Studies Academy', is just a proposal at this point as well according to Dr.Dyer until the Board takes official action on the school.
"The name is up to their governance council, the proposed name is from them," she added. "Now that Fair Street has vacated and moved into its new school, that opens the opportunity to have an expanded middle school program that could create learning environment with the International Baccalaureate, technology, and the high school connection that students would consider a positive choice."