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Addressing Rumors, Separating Fact from Fiction.
   
It’s always the goal of the Conecuh County Board of Education to be transparent regarding our goals, mission and vision. We have demonstrated our transparency by providing presentations at Open Board Meetings regarding topics for consideration, financial statements, backgrounds, academic and testing data, building improvements, and so much more. We have also maintained an open door policy for anyone to stop by to get answers to questions.  Unfortunately, despite our many efforts, we find ourselves the victims of many false rumors and misinformation. Like you, we are unaware of the false rumors or misinformation until we are asked directly or read it in the local paper. On many occasions, our attempts to correct the rumors or false information have not been successful. To assist in correcting false rumors and misinformation, we have dedicated a tab on our website entitled Facts…NOT Fiction!!! 
   This tab features and will feature answers to your questions concerning any relevant misinformation that is brought to our attention. This page will also serve as another attempt to establish open communication between all stakeholders and the Conecuh County Board of Education. Your questions will be answered by our Superintendent, Dr. Byrd, or other authorized leadership team members. So, if you have a question concerning the progress of our school district or need clarification on any matters concerning Conecuh County Schools, please email your questions to factsNOTfiction@conecuhk12.com. You will hear directly from our Superintendent or authorized leadership team members.  Let’s put an end to rumors and misinformation by seeking the facts and answers to your questions directly from the source. Let’s continue to make our school system GREAT! In Conecuh, We are Great!... Whatever it Takes!

Frequently Asked Questions, And Answers:


Will the Armory Building be turned into a Juke Joint? A recent article published in the paper referenced rumors that some members of the Atmore City Council heard rumors that the proposed buyers of the National Guard Armory had intentions of turning the building into a Juke Joint.  Dr. Byrd met with representatives who expressed an interest in the National Guard Armory. During the discussion, the question was asked regarding the use of the building and it was expressed that the building would be used for a possible Boys and Girls Club for our community.   Dr. Byrd was excited to hear and promised to join in making this a reality. Never during the discussion was any mention of a proposed night club or Juke Joint. Although the Board of Education has no control over what a buyer chooses to do with a building, a Juke Joint was never a part of any discussions.   

 

School Closures- Does the Conecuh County Board of Education plan to close any schools? Absolutely NOT! The Superintendent and Board Members have been working over the past three years to address the declining enrollment in our schools and in our communities. Over the past twenty years, enrollment has consistently dropped every year with the exception of the 2016-2017 academic year. (Please see the enrollment link attached.)  During the 2016-2017 academic year, the district expanded its enrollment by creating Genesis Innovative School- an online K-12 Virtual School in Conecuh County.   During this year, enrollment increased by over 300 students. This provided much needed funds for Conecuh County to help sustain some of the declining enrollment and revenues.  However, although the virtual enrollment increased each year after the 2016-2017 academic year, enrollment in our traditional schools did not. As of the 2018-2019 school year, enrollment numbers were as follows: CCJHS 128, EES, 357, HHS, 360, LJHS 168, TMMS, 159, RJHS 128, and GIS 530. It should be noted that within the past year, several schools experienced an enrollment decline. CCJHS lost 28 students; Repton lost 3 students;  Evergreen lost 16 students; and Hillcrest lost 58 students. This equates to a decline within one year of over 100 students and a loss of $550,000 in state funding for the 2019-2020 academic year.    
The declining enrollment and revenues caused a drain on the system’s resources because although the enrollment numbers decreased, we kept all of our teachers in place, which resulted in smaller than usual class sizes. Some classes only had between 5-7 students in a class or grade level. The 9th grade classes at Lyeffion, Repton, and Castleberry only had about 2-3 students in a class.  The district saw this as a positive and used the small numbers to really focus on one-to-one instruction, intervention, and remediation. This has proven to be very beneficial to our students and schools and contributed to increased test scores and academic gains for our students.   However, without the state and federal government sending the funds for teachers that the district did not earn (due to the low enrollments), the district could no longer afford to supplement funding with local (general) funding (in general, it takes about 20-25 students to earn one teacher unit). As a result, the district has come up with a solution to still focus our efforts on instruction, intervention, and remediation by adding the Distance Learning option back to Conecuh County Junior High, Repton Junior High, and Lyeffion Junior High Schools. 7th and 8th grade students will receive direct instruction via Distance Learning for Math and English and ACCESS Virtual Learning for Science and Social Studies.    Distance Learning is an instructional option that was used during academic years of the past.
Distance Learning will continue to provide a great educational experience for our schools and allow teachers to teach from one location and still have the same interactions with students at the other two locations. Yes, the teacher will be able to see, hear, interact, and answer questions live at the other two schools while being based at one school. ACCESS and other online learning options will be used to teach Science and Social Studies. ACCESS Virtual Learning is an education initiative of the Alabama State Department of Education which provides opportunities and options for Alabama middle and high school students to engage in Advanced Placement (AP), elective, and other courses. Students will have access to teacher facilitators that will be on hand to provide additional assistance.   

 

 Will the Distance Learning Teachers be based at one school all year? No. A rotating schedule will be created to allow teachers to spend one week at the physical locations. Facilitators will be assigned to each classroom to assist students when the classroom teacher is not physically assigned to their classroom for that week.  In addition, the teacher will have additional time built into his/her schedule to make visits at schools for particular students even when they are not assigned for that particular week.      
 
Will Southside Preparatory Magnet Academy be moving to Evergreen Elementary School?  Yes. The district has decided to consolidate the resources of EES and SPMA.  EES has a building capacity of 600 students. However, currently only about 350 students actually occupy the space of EES. The surplus of classrooms at EES provides a great opportunity for SPMA students to utilize some of the space that was not currently available at SPMA like a fully operational cafeteria, larger gym space, and so much more.   

 

Will SPMA students interact with EES students? SPMA is a district-wide program for 6th-8th Grade students.  SPMA students will attend classes in the back annex (or 4th & 5th Grade Hall) at the EES location. The master schedule will be designed so that the students interact with their grade-bands.  Some common areas may be shared under special circumstances, such as an assembly.  

 

 

 Will Southside’s building be left vacant?  Absolutely not! SPMA’s building will remain operational. Not only will students continue to utilize the space for its STEAM classes (piano, art, dance, etc, media publications, etc.), the building will also be utilized by other schools in the district as well as the community.  Yes, community members / organizations will be allowed to utilize/rent the space for approved events.   

 

 

Does SPMA take teacher units earned from traditional schools? No. Teacher units for SPMA are actually flexed from Genesis Innovative School. As of today, GIS is the largest school in the district boasting over 500 students. As a result, Genesis earns funding for teacher units. The funding for the teacher units at GIS are used to pay for the instructional program at GIS, software, Instructors, and staff for GIS along with staff for SPMA. Each school’s teacher allocations have been assigned for each school. Even after cost saving reductions, local funds are still funding more teacher units than schools actually earn. GIS has been a tremendous help for the district. Without our state-wide virtual students and the funding assistance that we have received from enrolling them into our district, our district would have faced a huge financial loss over the past years as enrollment has declined. Declines in enrollment are not isolated to Conecuh County. Many of our surrounding districts have also faced enrollment declines.  

 

What will be the cost savings for the 2019-2020 academic year? Through our cost savings plan that has been shared with all communities through a series of PTO Meetings held at each school over the past few months by Dr. Byrd, our estimated savings for the 2019-2020 academic year are expected to be about $1.6 million. Through our cost savings approach, the focus will remain on keeping as many of our employees as possible, by paying for them through allocated state funds and federal funds where applicable. We will also focus on ensuring that our students have the best resources available to them in the classrooms, after school extracurricular activities, and contining to make improvements to our exisiting school buildings. 
Is Southside Preparatory Magnet Academy (SPMA) an accredited program? Yes. All schools in the Conecuh County School District are accredited through AdvancED. As a matter of fact, the school district just completed district-wide recertification  and we received outstanding results. Our accrediation was renewed for five more years-June 30, 2024. 

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