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Governor Bryant makes his decision on JPS takeover

Governor Phil Bryant. Photo courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc.

After weeks of questions surrounding the future of the Jackson Public School District, Governor Bryant has decided not to initiate a state takeover.

Instead of a takeover, Governor Bryant has decided to form a coalition with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Education Commission of the States and Mississippi’s Economic Council to develop a plan to improve JPS.

Governor Bryant’s office sent out the following press release informing the public of his decision to form the coalition:

Gov. Phil Bryant has formed a coalition that will develop a collaborative, comprehensive plan to improve Jackson Public Schools.

It centers on community involvement, collaborative governance and strategic investments. It does not initiate a state takeover of JPS, though the Mississippi Department of Education’s request remains active.

Instead, it brings together JPS stakeholders and forms partnerships with national and local experts, including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Education Commission of the States and Mississippi Economic Council.

“The easy thing for me to do would have been approve the state takeover,” Gov. Bryant said. “This is a better way forward for the 27,000 students in JPS. The opportunity to form this coalition was too good to pass up. I am grateful for the membership’s commitment to bring transformative change to Jackson Public Schools.”

As part of the first phase, every current member of the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees has resigned. Also included is the formation of a Project Commission, comprised of JPS stakeholders. From there, commissioners and local, state and national partners will engage the community in a series of listening sessions.

“The Governor and I agree that the challenges faced by the Jackson Public School District provide an opportunity to create a new transformative vision for JPS,” said Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. “Our children deserve an excellent school district. I am pleased to work together with Governor Bryant and the Kellogg Foundation to create this ‘Third Option’ for JPS. Many would say that the Governor and my political views represent oppositional poles; however, this collaboration is an excellent demonstration of what I have called ‘Operational Unity.’”

Mayor Lumumba continued: “We have come together for the benefit of our children and our community to craft a plan that is not about personality, but about solving real problems to benefit all parties.”

With input from ECS, which will share best practices developed from successes in other states, a request for proposals to perform an outside evaluation of the JPS educational ecosystem will be issued. The Kellogg Foundation has agreed to support the commission’s discovery efforts, including the outside evaluation and listening sessions.

“Children are our greatest asset and we believe in their hopes, dreams and aspirations,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “Their future makes this work so important and when we stand together in partnership with the governor, mayor, JPS and the community, all in alignment, great things will happen.”

The outside evaluation will be informed by school data and the listening sessions. Its findings will drive the development of a plan that addresses key education gaps, alignment of resources, professional development, personnel recommendations, safety considerations and other factors.

The Project Commission will consider the findings and will work with outside organizations to identify existing resources within JPS to apply toward the plan’s implementation. Periodic evaluations will then be conducted to ensure JPS stays on the path to success.

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