Polk school district maintains 'C' grade for 2016-2017 school year

By Stephanie Claytor, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, June 29, 2017, 9:12 PM EDT

With Polk County Public School District maintaining its “C” letter grade this school year, district and school leaders celebrated improvements and successes at schools across the county.

  • Number of failing schools dropped from 5 to 3
  • Number of "A", "B", "C" schools increased
  • Superintendent set goal for zero "F" schools in district next year

The district saw increases in the number of schools receiving "A", "B", and "C" grades. Its number of failing schools also decreased from five to three.
 
Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said overall she’s proud of the results.
 
“I’m very excited about what we see," Byrd said.  "Last year, we had 25 schools show a decrease. This year, we only had six. That’s a testament to the teachers."

Major improvement at Socrum Elementary

One of the schools that saw major improvement was Socrum Elementary. Its letter grade went from an “F” to a “C.”

That school's principal, Kenyetta Feacher, was just promoted to the position during a recent school board meeting. She was ecstatic when she got the news of her school's grade.

“I screamed. I cried and danced,” Feacher said. “I was very proud of the work. The teachers and the leadership team really pitched in, and the relationships we developed in the community really were a big part of where we are today.”
 
One of the relationships included partnering with local businesses to reward high achieving students with Lamborghini rides.
 
“Often times you focus on misbehavior," Feacher explained. "But you forget to focus on the great things that are going on. So that was my mission, to make sure we focused on what was going great."

Other results

The district started the school year with five turnaround middle schools. Three, including Westwood, Denison, and Boone Middle Schools, rose to the challenge of getting  a “C” or better.
 
Kathleen and Lake-Alfred Addair were the two turnaround middle schools that didn’t improve their letter grade above a D. Even though they didn’t reach their goal, Byrd said they still have time improve.
 
“Right now those schools are on a two-year plan for improvement," said Byrd. "So those schools will be open and like I said we’re going to look for what we need to do to increase it."
 
For now, she doesn’t want to move teachers and principals out of these schools.
 
“I do not want to do that. That was the biggest issue that we had. We didn’t have stabilization," Byrd explained. "We started off basically in late October, November, trying to stabilize schools. If we could start off with those schools stabilized in August, I know those schools could get the results that they intend to get at the end of the year."
 
The three schools that received F’s were Fred Garner Elementary School, Griffin Elementary School, and McLaughlin Middle School and Fine Arts Academy. Superintendent Byrd said her goal is to have zero failing schools next year.