Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance President, Reverend W. James Nelson convened a special meeting at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church on May 3, 2012 that included IMA cabinet members; IMA Education Committee Chair; IMA General Education and Higher Education consultant; Savannah Chatham School Board Superintendent Dr. Thomas Lockamy and School Board President Dr. Joe Buck.
In anticipation of the group’s questions on earlier press coverage of a 54 percent graduation rate for SCCPSS students, both Dr. Lockamy and Dr. Buck offered an ameliorative interpretation of data. While the 54 percent graduation rate is based on how many students graduate in four years, another model, the “Leaver” calculation, allows for basing graduation rates on how many students graduate high school an obtain a diploma, and finish in “more than four years”. If those who actually achieve high school graduation in more than four years are included, the graduation rate increases. Dr. Cunningham exposed the economic delays and losses that are a direct consequence of low literacy and poor graduation rates. Dr. Lockamy conceded that deleting the compulsory Regents exam for local college graduates; watering down Exit Exams within university departments; and for high schools is a poor alternative to raising literacy and competency levels.
Amid concerns over job losses, Dr. Buck and Dr. Lockamy stressed that outsourcing jobs was a “No go”. Most teachers, and support staff, including those from Scott Alternative School will retain jobs, unless they have been evaluated out of the system. IMA was relieved to learn that there was little or no opposition from faculty to making a “necessary”, immutable decision to close Scott Alternative School. Nevertheless, IMA failed to show any support for moving Scott students to the Savannah Mall, or enrolling those pupils in costly, high risk programs.