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Saturday, May 08, 2021

Hawthorne Middle/High School to close if it can’t become a ‘C’ school

Hawthorne Middle/High School, located at 21403 SE 69th Ave., has been a “D” school for several years.

As a result, the school faces the possibility of closing if it can’t reach a “C” rating by August.

The legislation that put the school in this position is HB 7069, which took effect July 1 and will close any public school with a rating lower than a “C.”

“Unfortunately right now there aren’t a lot of good options we have based on the requirements that the state has put before us,” said Jackie Johnson, a spokesperson for Alachua County Public Schools.

For Hawthorne Middle/High School, there are only three options: completely close the school, turn it into a charter school or give it to an independent contractor.

If the school were to close down, Johnson said it would affect about 300 students.

“In all three of the options, you can’t say for sure how many students would be going and how many students would be staying,” she said.

In an attempt to save the school, administrators have put several initiatives into play for the coming school year.

“What we’re working on are plans to improve student achievement at school, no matter what comes for 2018 and 2019,” she said. “That includes, we’ve got a new principal there and a crop of teachers that have proven track records of raising student achievement.”

She said another major change is the school will have a full-time attendance officer because unexcused absences are a major problem.

“We’ve got a number of strategies that we’ll be using to try to attack all of those problems, but that’s harder because it doesn’t matter how wonderful your academic programs are or your extracurricular programs are if the kids aren’t in school to take advantage of them,” Johnson said.  

Hawthorne mayor Matt Surrency has grown up and raised his family in the city. He said the school closing would be a major loss for the community.

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“It’s anxious in a way, not knowing what the future holds for the school,” Surrency said. “But at the same time, it gives me some comfort that it’s in our hands in terms of determining the future of the school.”

Surrency said a big thing for people to keep in mind is to “not get too wrapped up in it.”

“Just do stuff as normal, but also be a little more focused on your education,” he said. “As for parents with their kids, take five more minutes to go over the homework, take five more minutes to read a book every day.”


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