Parents of students attending D.J. Montague Elementary School will have the option to transfer their students to either Norge Elementary or James River Elementary School for the coming school year.
The Williamsburg-James City County school division is offering public school option to DJ Montague parents because the school failed to meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals for the 2009-2010 school year. The school is in its third year of “School Improvement” status, which requires the division to make changes to improve.
A letter dated Aug. 30 explaining the school option was mailed to parents. In the letter, Acting Superintendent Scott Burckbuchler said the school applied for a federal waiver for the public school option, instead offering more tutoring at D.J. Montague. Late last week, the Virginia Department of Education informed WJCC it was not eligible for a waiver, he wrote.
Burckbuchler said Norge and James River Elementary were chosen as options because Norge has the most capacity to accommodate additional students and James River has an International Baccalaureate program that “offers an alternative method for instruction.” Parents will have until Sept. 15 to file one transfer request form per child and will receive a division response to the request by Sept. 24. The division is required to offer transportation to the new school, and transferring students will start at their new schools on Sept. 27.
When D.J. Montague moves out of “School Improvement” status, parents can choose whether to keep their children in their new schools or return them to D.J. Montague. If transfer students choose to remain at their new schools, the division will no longer be required to offer transportation. If the requests for transfers exceeds available funding, priority will be given to the lowest-achieving students from low-income families.
D.J. Montague failed to make AYP in 2008, but rebounded to meet the requirements in 2009. This year, the school made AYP in mathematics and attendance, but one subgroup – black students – failed to meet the English proficiency requirement. Among black students, 76 percent showed proficiency in English, four percentage points shy of the requirement. To learn more about AYP results, click here.
The DOE also requires D.J. Montague to offer tutoring after school. When AYP results were released on Aug. 11, WJCC Executive Director for Academic Services Regina Yitbarek told WY Daily the school’s teachers will receive more professional development from an instructional coach, learn assessment strategies and collaborate more on lesson planning. The school will also provide an additional Reading Recovery teacher and new reading materials.
The school will have a new leader this year. Principal Lynn Turner joined D.J. Montague after serving as principal at James River Elementary. She replaced Sammy Fudge, who will now be principal at Toano Middle School.
For the school to move out of “School Improvement” status, the school must meet AYP goals for two consecutive years in reading, the subject it failed. Since the 2004-2005 school year, DJ Montague has not met AYP goals in four of the seven years.
In his letter to parents, Burckbuchler encouraged parental involvement at the school, suggesting parents attend parent information nights, attend Partner in Print nights (workshops on helping children learn to read) and read to children daily.
He also asked parents to consider the choice before them. “You are strongly encouraged to consider the following: D.J. Montague has improved its academic performance significantly in the last two years; D.J. Montague has a strong leadership team in place led by Principal Lynn Turner and excellent, caring faculty/staff members; D.J. Montague has the resources necessary to meet this one last indicator for reading success,” Burckbuchler wrote. “Progress is clearly being made at DJM, and parents should consider the value of keeping children in their neighborhood school with their peers.”
Parents are invited to attend a meeting from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 at D.J. Montague Elementary. Tours of Norge and James River elementary schools will be given from 4 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 13. For more information about public school choice, contact WJCC Title I Coordinator DeVeria Gore at (757) 253-6780.
To see the school’s Department of Education Report Card, click here.