Sims parents express concerns about AVID, facility condition to BOE

CONYERS — Several Sims Elementary parents brought their concerns to the Rockdale County Board of Education at its regular work session Thursday night, particularly about the school’s technology services, Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program and facility conditions.

A few parents expressed that they have felt that this year’s AVID program is weaker than last year’s. AVID is a college readiness system designed to increase school-wide learning and performance using research-based methods of instruction. The program’s philosophy is to hold students accountable to the highest standards and provide academic and social support, according to the AVID website.

Rosie Hartaway, a parent of a Sims second-grader, stated that she feels a sense of decline in the AVID program since former Sims principal Allison Barbour left at the end of the previous school year.

“Last year when we came into the school, you felt the pride of AVID,” said Hartaway to the BOE. “And my biggest concern when Ms. Barbour left was that AVID was going to fall off. And when you walk into the school — yes things have been changed, and I understand under new leadership things will change, but I just don’t feel the sense of AVID and the sense of pushing the program further now that we have new leadership.”

Hartaway went on to add that her child’s enthusiasm for his AVID binder, an organizational aspect implemented by the program, is not the same as it was during the 2013-14 school year.

She also said that Sims’ technology has become an issue, noting that current Principal Dr. Chara Moore was unable to give a Powerpoint presentation on the school’s curriculum night due to faulty equipment, and that the school’s morning show has not been able to be broadcast because the school’s cameras and mixers have not been functioning properly.

Hartaway’s concern also branched out to the structural condition of the school, stating that she witnessed leaking pipes at Sims, and that the gym floor is in disrepair.

Fellow second-grade parent Kinika Gupta shared Hartaway’s concern about the school’s AVID program and physical condition.

“I was very concerned when I learned at the school meeting from a few parents that we don’t have as good facilities as other schools do, and I’m also concerned about the pullback on the AVID program,” Gupta said.

She went on to add that Sims could use some updated flooring, plumbing and computers. However, she did note a sense of devotion to student accomplishment at the school.

“I see really good teachers (st Sims). I see intelligent students. I see a committed administration that will work with us. But what I’m not seeing is success,” stated Gupta.

Rockdale County Public Schools Chief of Staff Eugene Baker stated that Sims receives the same updates as other schools in the district.

“Sims Elementary School has received the same updates that our other schools received this summer,” said Baker. He added, “SES received 70 new computers to replace their older computer equipment.”

RCPS Director of Operational Services Phil Budensiek reviewed architectural updates that the school has received in the past few years.

“(In) 2006 eight classrooms had new flooring put down and in 2011-2012 school year six classrooms of flooring were replaced,” said Budensiek. “The school was repainted in our seven year rotation program in 2010. Also, air conditioning has been installed in the gym along with a new fire alarm system.”

Budensiek added that the school’s gym is expecting new flooring within the next month.

“In June we ordered the carpet for the gym floor,” he said. “It is due to us the first of September and installation is scheduled for Sept. 5 – 7.”

Moore stated that no changes have been made to the school’s AVID program, and that it is being implemented in all classroom settings. She also stated that the school has begun to implement the Writing Inquiry Collaboration Organization and Reading (WICOR) program this year. According to AVID’s website, WICOR is a model that faculty can use to guide students to comprehend materials and concepts.