9th grade moving to HCMS

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 9, 2007

WINTON – The ninth grade is on the move.

Thanks to a unanimous vote of the Hertford County Board of Education, the district’s ninth grade will be on the campus of Hertford County Middle School beginning with the 2007-2008 school year.

School Superintendent Dr. Michael G. Basham made the recommendation more than two weeks ago at the regular meeting of the board, but gave the members a week to mull the information provided to them.

Last Wednesday, at a called meeting of the school board, Dr. Basham said he had received input from many sources regarding the possible move.

He said most of the community input had been positive and the only negatives had come from staff members who may be affected by the move.

Board Chairman John D. Horton made it clear to his board he wanted the discussion to happen at this meeting.

“Speak now,” he said. “Now is the time to talk.”

Board member Ronald G. Baker said the only negative comments he had received had also come from the staff.

“I think everyone knows it has been my desire to make the high school smaller as long as I’ve been on this board,” he added.

David Shields, another board member, asked how the administration of the school would work.

“We’re going to decide that,” Horton said. “The superintendent and his staff will make a recommendation, but we’ll make the decision.”

The plan submitted by the administration called for an assistant principal to be moved with the ninth grade to handle discipline and other issues. It also said Hertford County High School Principal Jerry Simmons would maintain his responsibility for the ninth grade.

“The governance we’ve recommended would be that an assistant principal would be over the Ninth Grade Academy and report to the high school principal,” Dr. Basham said.

He said the recommendation was made based on conversations with those helping implement the Talent Development High School at HCHS.

“I like the plan,” Horton said. “I just can’t see it administratively. The principal, in my opinion, has to have total control of that site.”

Both Baker and Shields indicated their agreement that Hertford County Middle School Principal Carson Watford should have administrative oversight of the entire school.

“Why can’t the ninth graders be his (Watford’s) students,” Horton asked.

“They can,” Dr. Basham said.

Horton said he would like to see the ninth grade in Watford’s hands rather than those of any assistant principal.

Board member Dennis M. Deloatch said he wanted it clear who the principal of the school would be. He indicated there had been problems in the past with people thinking that assistant principals had the authority of a principal and he wanted to make sure that was not the case.

Board member J. Wendell Hall said he wanted to play the devil’s advocate for a moment and brought out how many changes were being studied at HCHS.

“I have no problem with this,” he said, “but with all the things we have on the table, I have to wonder if it will all align together. I don’t see this meshing yet.”

Dr. Basham said he understood the concerns and said he had spent many nights thinking about how much people can handle as far as change.

“With all of this, is it too much,” Hall asked. “Do we need to clear some things off the deck before we go on? I’m not sure.”

Hall asked if the staff could physically handle all of the changes and Dr. Basham assured him they would work hard to get everything done.

The other area of concern was the staff that may be affected by the decision. Horton made it clear he was concerned about their feelings, but also wanted the decision left up to the board.

“I want this to be a board decision,” he emphasized. “Don’t let the staff play politics.”

Before the vote, Hall said he wanted to be clear who would be in charge and Dr. Basham said it was his understanding, from board discussion, they wanted Mr. Watford to be in charge. He said that would happen, but the school of record for the ninth grade would remain HCHS.

“So this is not a junior high,” Hall asked.

Dr. Basham said it was not.

Hall then made the motion to move the ninth grade to the campus of Hertford County Middle School with Baker offering a second. It passed without objection.