Carver/Century Closure: School Reaction

May 15, 2008

Wednesday was a tough day for Carver/Century K-8 Principal Jeff Garthwaite. He went through his day with a terrible secret…his school would be facing closure…but he was unable to share that secret until after school Wednesday.

“I received the word about the possible closure yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon,” Garthwaite told Wednesday afternoon shortly after he met with his faculty and staff. “This afternoon was the first opportunity I had to bring the entire faculty together to discuss the issue.”

“My immediate boss, Wayne Odom, offered to come up as we addressed the faculty before it became public,” he said.”I told him I would like to be the one to reveal to the faculty that the superintendent would be bringing the proposal.”

Garthwaite said that when he made the announcement, there was a wide range of emotions, including disbelief and many tears. After the announcement, questions were asked.

“They wanted to know what would happen to the students, and what would happen to them,” he said. “I assured them that no one would lose their job, but they would be displaced and possibly assigned to a different job.”

Many faculty members have resolved to fight the closure, and that fight needs to be based on facts, not emotions, he said.

“From downtown’s standpoint, this is a very objective process. Closing a school in a rural area like this has much more impact, a greater impact, than closing one in an area like Pensacola. Emotions can run high, but we must remain very rational.”

“It is gloom and doom,” Garthwaite said. “but it is not yet the end.”

“I continue to celebrate this school and my faculty; we are making progress,” he said of the school, currently rated as an “F” school by the state. “I am still looking forward to another year here and a positive chance to continue to improve.”

Closing the school prior to the start of the next school year would be a daunting task.

“The response time to deal with the logistics involved with closing a school and moving the students by next school year would be a pretty awesome task,” he said.

While Garthwaite does not want to see his school close, he knows the battle to keep it open will be a tough one. Not only is the school rated as an “F” school, enrollment is down and the school’s recently release fourth and eight grade FCAT writing scores were dismal, ranking as the county’s worst.

“I feel like the writing scores were the straw thrown on the camel’s back,” he said, referring to the adage about the “straw that broke the camel’s back” being the final action that leads to an event.

“But we are going to do as we have to do,” Garthwaite said. “This school is a vital part of this community. And there are a lot of people that invested their lives in this school and in Century. was the first media to break the Carver/Century closure proposal story Wednesday afternoon, and we will have complete coverage today. Click any story title below to read more of today’s coverage:


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