Councilman says city schools perception could hurt its survival - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Councilman says city schools perception could hurt its survival

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TUSCALOOSA - AL -

     A Tuscaloosa City Councilman has been vocally critical of the City Schools.   Lee Garrison is even loosely tossing around the idea of consolidation of the system into the County Schools System if the city schools perceived image doesn't change.

   "We've got a lot of white people who are not letting their kids go to Tuscaloosa City Schools," Garrison told ABC 33/40 by phone Monday.

    He says its not a racial issue but the racial makeup of schools in their individual districts do not represent the corresponding communities.  "There are way too many students being bussed to out of their neighborhood zones to other schools where they don't live," explained Garrison.

   But, Board Members Kelly Horwitz and Marvin Lucas struck back in an interview on Monday with ABC 33/40 saying a majority of the bussing occurred long before the new administration took place and after release from a court order which aimed to bring the Tuscaloosa City School system into 'Unitary' status.

  Garrison says the practice is wreaking havoc on the school systems' image and he also insists the core curriculum is keeping advance students back and perhaps all of the issues combined are affecting test scores.  "If one school is not making AYP, that's too many -- the way I see it."

   Horwitz and Lucas though argued the board has made great strides in making the city schools more competitive.  "All of the elementary schools last year  in the Central Zone all of them made AYP," stressed Lucas and Horwitz echoed boards efforts, "We've increased student opportunities in AP courses," she said.

    However, Garrison maintains public perception of the schools needs to change.  He fears that if it does not by 2016,  voters will likely reject renewal of a important property tax  which is a major source of revenue for the school system. "They'll loose a lot of money.  Its going to be a no confidence vote.  Its [school system] improved over the last year but its public confidence level is still below 50%.

   Both, Lucas and Horwitz say they were not aware of  some issues Garrison raised but say they plan to meet with City Leaders in the coming days to discuss the matters.

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