Dothan to close magnet schools, cut number of high schools to one

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Dothan (WTVY)-- After a long, divisive process a much anticipated meeting to decide the future of Dothan schools turned out to be anti-climatic.

The Dothan School Board votes on November 26, 2018 to abolish magnet schools and close one of the city's two high schools.

In perhaps the briefest school board meeting ever—barely two minutes---members voted five to two for the abolition of magnet schools and to eliminate one of the city's two high schools. Only Amy Bonds and Chris Maddox opposed the plan.

“I want to say thank you to board members because, clearly, they are a board that cares about children,” Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Edwards said afterwards.

She is the architect of several proposals considered during the past few months. Ironically, the version approved Monday, known as option five, wasn't unveiled until several weeks after the first four. Edwards calls it the result of input from board members, parents, and others.

The most controversial part of the restructuring plan approved is the elimination of magnet schools. “We've got four (of them) and they are among the best performing (schools) in the state and, now, they've all been removed,” said Maddox.

Shaun Cunningham, whose two children attend magnets, agrees. “(My children) thrive there and, honestly, I don't know what we're going to do,” hinting he may opt for private school when Edwards plan takes effect next school year.

Others feel the same way. At a recent school board meeting, a small, yet enthusiastic group demonstrated in opposition to closing magnets but, in the end, it had no effect on how board members voted.

Receiving less criticism are other components of the plan such as ten neighborhood schools, with accelerated learning classes, that will be home to students from K5 through the sixth grades.

Seventh, eighth, and ninth graders will attend what is now Dothan High and students in grades 10, 11, and 12 will go to Northview.
In addition, there will a science and math academy, similar to a magnet school, for third through sixth graders.

Cloverdale, Grandview, Montana, and Honeysuckle will close, the latter re-purposed for office space. Edwards projects that will save several million dollars a year in maintenance costs, money she hopes to funnel into classrooms.

“Public education is critical to Dothan as a city, it's certainly important to the more than 9,000 students we have sitting in front of us,” Edwards said.