Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Optimism Returns to Mandarin with Desegregation Agreement

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Optimism Returns to Mandarin with Desegregation Agreement

Article excerpt

Optimistic was not a word Mandarin Middle School PTA President

Nita McKelvey used to use when she thought about the

negotiations the Duval County School Board and NAACP entered in

January with U.S. District Judge Harvey Schlesinger.

After all, previous discussions between both sides over the

desegregation agreement hadn't been going well, she said.

"If we were going to do it, we were going to do it with this

judge. If we didn't, we were going to go to court," she said.

"Everything we had gone through had been bogged down in red

tape."

Parent Bernie Cohen, chairman of the Mandarin area School

Advisory Council, wasn't too sure both sides would come out with

an agreement either, especially one that has $318 million for

new schools, including two that will help Mandarin's overcrowded

schools.

"I was not optimistic, which is why I am excited about the

outcome," he said. "With the possibility of a new middle school

in the Baymeadows area, it will help relieve the overcrowding

[at Mandarin Middle]."

But one day after the School Board and representatives of the

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

tentatively agreed to a new plan, everyone at a joint PTA,

school advisory council and principals meeting at Mandarin

Middle School Friday seemed as pleased as Cohen.

Mandarin Middle School Principal Walter Carr, whose school is

operating with a multitrack schedule and an enrollment cap to

handle overcrowding, expects a new middle school in the

Baymeadows Road area will help.

"We are looking forward to that building being built, and

ultimately having some students reassigned," Carr said. "We

don't know how it's going to happen yet. But . . . it would have

a positive effect, to lower our enrollment so we can become a

single-track school again."'

Part of the plan includes a $3 million addition to Greenland

Pines Elementary School, which is great news to parent Diane

Quick. She said she went into the meeting "feeling like a big

stone had been lifted" after hearing about the agreement. …

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