Gadsden Residents Support Superintendent's Reconfiguration Plan

Educators Speak Out in Favor of Gadsden County Reconfiguration
Posted at 11:07 PM, Mar 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-24 14:10:03-04

QUINCY, FL (WTXL) -- After weeks of resistance and a shocking decision by Gadsden County superintendent Roger Milton, a resilient group is speaking up in support of reconfiguration.

Milton said last Monday that he wouldn't continue with his proposal this school year.

"We can't continue down the road that we've been down for the past 10, 12 years," said Ronte Harris, president of the Gadsden County Classroom Teachers' Association (GCCTA). "We've got to make a change if we're going to survive."

The GCCTA gathered faculty, parents, students and others to send a message to Milton Thursday in Quincy.

"We have to remain relevant," said Erica Farmer, Gadsden County's 2016-17 District Teacher of the Year. "We have to remain competitive, because other districts are soliciting teachers like myself."

"Not knowing which decision to take can be more painful and that's the predicament we are in right now," said Keith Dowdell, principal of Carter-Parramore Academy.

Stanley Nealy is the assistant varsity football coach at West Gadsden High School. He said players from West Gadsden have started practicing with his team.

"They get along. There's no rivalry between West Gadsden and East Gadsden when you bring the kids together," Nealy said. "The kids talk to each other. They welcome the change. All they're waiting on now is for it to happen."

Unity was a common theme Thursday, including from East Gadsden's student body president.

"For far too long, we've prided ourselves on being divided," said SGA president Ni'Jah Johnson. "We aren't West Gadsden or East Gadsden. We are simply Gadsden."

The swell of support has come after eight community meetings where most speakers opposed plans.

"Individuals who are more knowledgeable about the educational system are in a position where they don't have to argue their point but rather they know where they stand," said Ty Smith, the only school board member to attend the special press conference.

Smith said it's very possible the board could come to an agreement to act in one way or another, even if that means adjusting Milton's original plan.

Superintendent Roger Milton was out of town and unavailable for comment.

The next school board meeting is set for March 28.