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Pinellas questions Jamerson's link to Thurgood Marshall



Pinellas school board members are once again taking aim at Jamerson Elementary's link to Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School.

Considered one of the most desirable middle schools in south county, Thurgood Marshall has a waiting list that school officials described Tuesday as "hundreds deep." A fundamental and gifted magnet school, Thurgood Marshall draws students from throughout the county.

Members of the school board questioned why Jamerson fed into Thurgood, when there is another nearby middle school for Jamerson to feed into: Bay Point.

"Bay Point is a legitimate feeder from Jamerson. ... I don't want to give priority to [Jamerson] when they already have a logical feeder pattern," board member Linda Lerner said.

School board member Robin Wikle agreed. "I do think the Thurgood link to Jamerson has to stop, and I'm going to support that," Wikle said.

If they wanted to break the link, they should give at least a year's notice, fellow board member Terry Krassner said.

The school board was met with considerable resistance from Jamerson parents in 2010, when the board last considered breaking the feeder pattern. Parents said they had deliberately chosen Jamerson as a means to get their children into Thurgood Marshall.

The renewed call to sever ties was sparked at a school board workshop when Bill Lawrence, director of student demographics, assignment and school capacity, proposed adding Bay Point as a second option for Jamerson parents. The school system is planning to enhance Bay Point's Center for Science and Technology; Jamerson Elementary has a math and engineering focus.

"It was a compromise or middle ground that allows us to draw some students out of Thurgood into Bay Point without getting rid of a historical preference," Lawrence said.

The school board argued that, with the addition of Bay Point to the feeder pattern, there was no need for Thurgood Marshall to remain in the mix.

But Superintendent Michael Grego said it would be unfair to cut out Thurgood Marshall when the school system still had work to do on Bay Point.

"If both programs are comparable then let's pull the plug," Grego said. "If they're not comparable, let's get them there, and then pull the plug."

[Last modified: Thursday, August 8, 2013 2:38pm]


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