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It’s official: Byrd School no longer an elementary school

The Selma City School board approved the proposal to convert a school of about 100 elementary students to an early learning center that will serve 300 to 400 preschool students.

The Selma City School unanimously approved a plan presented recently by acting Superintendent of Education Larry DiChiara to convert Byrd Elementary into an early learning center for pre-school students. DiChiara was not in attendance at Tuesday evening’s meeting.

Dr. Ann Roy Moore, a state intervention team member who has been overseeing testing in the Selma City School System, presented DiChiara’s recommendations to the board.

“Why don’t we give this a chance?” board member Dr. Udo Ufomadu said about DiChiara’s recommendation. “If it doesn’t work we can look over this again.”

DiChiara proposed the plan to covert Byrd Elementary during a May board meeting as an attempt to solve the issue with Byrd Elementary only have about 100 students and the Selma City preschools receiving about 50 percent of the $2.8 million in Title I funds.

The Head Start Program and Office of School Readiness will be involved in the operation of the early child center, which has been named the Byrd First-Class Early Learning Center.

Before voting in favor of the plan, board members Dr. Kirit Chapatwalla and Brenda Randolph-Obomanu expressed some concerns about the Head Start program, which will be funding 79 percent of center teacher salaries according to intervention team member Nicey Eller.

“They have financial problems over and over throughout the years,” Randolph-Obomanu said. “I’m just a little hesitant about all of this because of the problems that they’ve had.”

Randolph-Obomanu brought up those same concerns during the board’s work session Thursday. Henry Moore, with Head Start, tried to calm any worries of the board during that same work session.

“What happened from the past administration was the administration itself didn’t

sit down and do checks and balances,” Moore said. “And that can happen in anyone’s system when you bring someone in and the resume or the skill sets says at that particular time that their qualified to do the job, but some point you realize once the performance is there that that individual is not capable of doing the job.”

Moore said the Head Start program is still operating and flowing smoothly.

Board President Henry Hicks Sr. said he’s confident the center will bring a positive chance for the school system if administrators come together to support it.

“I think at some point we are going to have to figure out where we are going to go,” Hicks said. “Are going to continue to stand still and not move forward in giving our children an opportunity?”

Those children who were zoned to attend Byrd Elementary School will now attend Knox Elementary School beginning next school year.