New official lays out plan to save DRS

Ronald Holmes, Ph.D., the new superintendent of Florida A&M University’s Development Research School, presented his plan of action to improve DRS to faculty members, parents and to the community.

Holmes presented his plan of action on various dates for the public to attend. He spoke to FAMU DRS faculty and staff March 26, addressed parents March 27 and spoke to the community March 28.

Holmes said prior to his address, he researched the top schools in Florida to see how they achieved gold medal status. He said his goal for FAMU DRS is to become a national school of excellence.

Holmes listed the areas at FAMU DRS that need improvement.

“Realizing the academic status of DRS, the declining enrollment, the turnover rate of faculty and staff, the lack of competitive salaries of teachers, the mandates of Florida Department of Education and the Federal requirements of Adequate Yearly Progress,” Holmes said. “I have been meeting with all DRS constituents the first eight weeks on the job to assess the strengths and opportunities for improving DRS.”

Holmes wanted to instill in his audience that FAMU DRS was in good hands.

“I want to ensure you that our school district will be committed to the academic success of all students.”

In his presentation, Holmes gave various ways to better the school and its students.

“We have to improve our skills no matter what our credentials are,” he said.

The PowerPoint presentation Holmes delivered gave detailed information on what he called a “road map” for FAMU DRS.

Some of the various objectives, or “destinations,” on the road map include adhering to the original mission of DRS, which is to conduct research, demonstration and evaluation regarding management, teaching and learning. Holmes also said he hopes to improve curriculum, provide professional development, hire staff in key areas and improve communication.

Holmes said the progress of his plans is “in motion.” He said the plan he has come up with is set for the years 2008 to 2011.

During the question and answer segment for faculty, staff and community Holmes encouraged that questions be asked.

“Parents need to know what we are doing,” he said.

A faculty member asked about the progress of the new FAMU DRS facility that is being built on Wahnish Way. The plans were originally set for the school to be complete in September 2008.

Holmes responded that the plans to move into the new facility are now set for January 2009.

Some of the faculty and staff responded to Holmes’ presentation.

Hope Williams, a FAMU DRS social science teacher, provided her reason of why FAMU DRS is at the status it is at now.

“Years of neglect,” Williams said. “Not just by the University, but by the community and the value of the school. The value has diminished.”

Williams gave her opinion of how FAMU DRS can be improved. She said the community has to care enough to be moved to action.

“I think he (Holmes) has a good plan in place,” Williams said. “I have to see it in practice.”

Roger Walker, a reading teacher at FAMU DRS, agreed with Williams’ response regarding the reasons for DRS’ current status.

“Lack of support from the University, from its community and sadly to say, parental involvement,” Walker said. “This community needs to know where DRS is headed.”

Holmes said he felt positive about his address.

“I feel great about them (the audience) being receptive to change and creating an environment for DRS to excel,” Holmes said. “We have a dedicated faculty that is committed to our students.”