Parents: S.S.F. middle school plan doesn’t add up

A new way of teaching the ABCs and 123s at Parkway Heights Middle School next year aims to put students on a path of achievement, while helping to remove the school from the federal government’s cross hairs, school officials said.

Yet, some parents and teachers continue to harbor mistrust of the school’s leadership and its plans to help students perform more proficiently in English and mathematics.

At Thursday night’s South San Francisco Unified School District Board meeting, district officials and Jay Rowley, principal of Parkway Heights, unveiled new scheduling options and a governance team that would implement a plan for the school and monitor how funds are spent.

A school site council, required by law and made up of parents, teachers andstudents, would also make recommendations to the Parkway Heights Governance Team, district officials said.

The school’s plans are an attempt to bring Parkway Heights into compliance with federal standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act. The upcoming year would mark the fifth year Parkway Heights is subject to federal program improvement. If students at Parkway Heights don’t perform better, the school could ultimately be taken over by the state.

But parents appeared skeptical of the plans, questioning the level of school leadership’s dedication and how the governance team would work.

“They talk like they care about the kids, but I can tell you from personal experience with Dr. Rowley, it’s a bunch of bull,” parent Karen Hagan said.

School board members requested that the district’s lawyers take a look at the legality of the proposed governance team, something the teachers union has questioned.

Plans to improve student test scores include an extra period at the beginning of the day to help struggling students as well as two new full-time school counselors and one new therapist — all bilingual — that will work out of a counseling center, Rowley said.

Last year, Rowley made a divisive change by recommending the transfer of four of the 32 teachers at Parkway Heights while three teachers were not invited back. The notice of transfers sparked a vote of “no confidence” in Rowley by the teachers last spring.

The results of the 2007 round of Standardized Testing and Reporting, or STAR Program, showed that Parkway Heights was the only middle school in the district to lose ground in the English portion. It was, however, the only school not to lose ground in math scores.

dsmith@examiner.com

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