By Kevin Edwards
BC Staff Writer
Cleveland School District Superintendent Dr. Otha Belcher held a Saturday morning summit for parents of the district.
This is the second parent meeting he has held and the first topic he was questioned about was the changes in bus transportation which went to effect at the beginning of the school year.
“We are not allowed to drop off at any entity besides what’s on our stops,” Belcher said. “What was happening was we had so many liabilities. We were dropping off at multiple extra locations. We had over 20 extra locations that we were dropping off.”
Belcher cited overcrowding on buses, increased fuel consumption and extra hours for bus drivers when there is already a bus driver shortage as additional reasons as to why it was not sustainable.
“It was all a liability, so we had to cut it out,” Belcher said. “We’ll do better with time frames. It’s just all a part of the changes and processes. We have had good reports. Buses have been on time. Overcrowding is nonexistent and I think the daycares are still running.”
Belcher asked parents ensure they have approached the principals with their concerns first before reaching out to him, as he should be the last line of defense.
“The principals run the buildings,” Belcher said. “I give them the leeway to run the buildings. But after you get in there and you ask the questions and you don’t get the answers, I’m free. You call me. I’ll call you. I always call back starting around 3 o’clock every day.”
On the topic of accountability grades, Belcher said he wants to change how Nailor Elementary School’s grade is determined.
“For accountability, Nailor gets their grade right now from D.M. Smith,” Belcher said. “So, no kids at Nailor take a state test. The state test begins at grade 3.”
“When you see their accountability model and you see the grades come out, Nailor had no say into their grade. It all came from another school. We’re trying to change it for next year hopefully. My vision is to let Nailor get some skin in the game.”
Belcher’s goal is to move third grade to Nailor and make D.M. Smith fourth grade through sixth grade only.
Belcher said that not only will this allow Nailor to get graded on its own merit but also allow for principals to better focus on their schools.
“The less you have to focus on, the more effective you can be,” said Belcher.
Belcher said the next parent information meeting is scheduled for November and he is open to holding it on Saturday mornings if that’s what can get parents out.