Caddo Schools Vision 2020 flops

Jul 7, 2013 by

It was supposed to work.

One of the most controversial plans for the future of Caddo schools, Vision 2020 was set to catapult the district out of its past and into an innovative future. At its core, it would have closed 12 schools, built four new ones, consolidated 15, and improved academics, finances and community support.

But it didn’t. Instead, the $600 million pillar to the Gerald Dawkins administration barely got off the ground, lacking board support and financing.

Now with the creator of the plan exiting and a new leader set to be named this month, the issues not addressed are now magnified. While the board wasn’t ready for the heat of closing a dozen schools, options are gone, and tough decisions will be made, board president Larry Ramsey said.

“We let the clock and money run out,” Ramsey said. “Now, we are running out of options. We are going to have to close schools, and academics have to improve.”

The community has been down this road before. During the unveiling of Vision 2020, parents and teachers picketed board meetings, and community forums became heated at the mention of closing schools. That pressure caused board members to water down the plan — instead targeting largely inner-city neighborhoods rather than the entire parish as intended.

As a result, the plan meant to ensure the future of Caddo schools fizzled.

“Politics and adult issues got in the way of improving academics and facilities for all children,” Dawkins said. “It’s unfortunate, but many were not ready for a plan designed to improve all schools.”

The board’s indecisiveness is squarely to blame for Vision 2020’s failure, said Scott Hughes, executive director of the Alliance for Education.

“Vision 2020 was an opportunity for Caddo to make tough decisions it needed to make for almost a decade,” Hughes said. “Dawkins put out an innovative plan and instead it was hijacked by the board and turned into what board members wanted instead of what was needed.”

Ultimately, the community and the board lacked the will to make the unpopular choices, board member and former president Lillian Priest said.

via Vision 2020 flops | Shreveporttimes |

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