On March 15, 2016 residents of the Mount Vernon City School District overwhelming approved a $108 million bond that will facilitate the district leadership’s vision to improve the quality of instruction,
enhance programs and services and close achievement gaps. This
initiative will ensure that all students receive a rigorous education
and develop the necessary skills, which prepares them to be model
citizens capable of competing in a global society. The bond will also
fund targeted urgent infrastructure needs to ready the district for
significant technology upgrades.
Planning Today for Tomorrow
long-term administrative leadership in place, Dr. Hamilton has embarked
on a master plan, his “20/20 Vision” for the district, which includes
improvements for all of Mount Vernon’s schools.
importance of early literacy for student success, the 20/20 Vision will
implement a district-wide full-day universal pre-kindergarten program.
This program will be housed in both neighborhood schools and an early
childhood education-learning center at Parker Elementary School. This
restructuring will create the space necessary to implement a K-8
configuration district-wide (Pennington, Holmes, Traphagen, Lincoln and
Columbus will become Pre-K-8 buildings. Williams, Grimes, Graham, Turner
and Hamilton schools will become K-8, with the new Parker Early
Learning Center housing the Pre-K programs for those schools. The Turner
schools will provide a K-5, then a 6-8).
The implementation of
universal full-day pre-kindergarten will introduce students to a
rigorous curriculum that will allow them to jump-start their formal
education. The program will also eliminate the need for parents to
assume the exorbitant costs of childcare during the workday.
Vernon is a community with many exceptional children who deserve an
excellent school system, equipped to offer many different pathways to a
successful life,” Dr. Hamilton said. “The 20/20 Vision provides a
blueprint for Mount Vernon to become an outstanding, contemporary and
progressive city school district – rich in opportunity and innovation.
In addition to the 20/20 Vision, this bond will provide the district
with the financial resources needed to address long-standing
infrastructure issues, creating a more comfortable, safer and
technologically advanced learning environment for our students.”
Hamilton has already made a number of improvements since becoming
Superintendent of Schools in August 2014 and his 20/20 Vision is an
extension of the work that has already begun. The district’s educational
programs and facilities have experienced the beginnings of a rebirth.
Under Dr. Hamilton’s leadership, the district has:
•Had a zero percent tax rate increase for the 2015-2016 school year
•Increased professional development and accountability for teachers and administrators
•Established a pilot full-day pre-K program
•Restored the Career and Technical Education programs
•Brought back modified track and field and basketball programs at the middle schools
•Expanded Behavioral Intervention Services to ALL elementary schools
•Begun restoration of the Mount Vernon High School swimming pool
strides have been made creating a more open and transparent school
system so residents have a clear understanding of the district’s
management, direction and financials. “This school district
administration understands the need for stringent financial oversight
and we will provide the same diligence as we do for our day-to-day
financial operations,” Dr. Hamilton said. “The district will provide
residents with a timeline of completion and ongoing public updates of
our progress in bringing these changes and improvements to life.”
Supporting the Vision
Changes to the district’s buildings are needed to support the 20/20 Vision. Some examples are:
Davis and Mount Vernon High School will each receive upgraded science
labs to support their STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and
Math) and technology curriculums.
•Thornton High School’s
turn-of-the-century auditorium will be restored and equipped to become a
state-of-the-art facility to support its performing arts curriculum and
provide a performance venue for the community.
•A.B. Davis and Mount
Vernon High School will each receive artificial turf fields to improve
safety and the competitiveness of its athletic programs.
High School will be outfitted with educational space that focuses on
dance, including a dance studio to support its performing arts
•Parker Elementary School will have bathrooms installed
in each pre-K classroom to provide added safety and convenience for
students as well as a site plan reconfigured for safer, more efficient
traffic patterns that will provide for safe pickup and drop-off of
•District-wide state-of-the-art science classrooms for 7th- and 8th-grade students.
Conversions of High Schools
the high school level, students will have a choice of entering one of
three “schools of excellence.” These schools will offer students a
choice of specialized areas of study in addition to general studies.
They will raise rigor, restore excellence, and provide multiple pathways
•A.B. Davis will become a 9-12 high school, offering a concentration in STEAM programs as well as general studies.
High School will become the district’s performing arts school and house
performing arts students in 6th through 12th grade (auditions will be
•Mount Vernon High School is maintained as a 9-12 high
school. It will become the center of the District’s reinvigorated Career
and Technical Education program as well as a general studies and
technology school with an International baccalaureate program.
our academic programs increase in both scope and quality our school
system will see a resurgence like never before,” Dr. Hamilton said. “We
fully anticipate the return of students from private and parochial
schools as we transform our district. Coupled with increases in property
values and the desirability of our community for new families – the
district’s renaissance will have a tremendous positive impact on our tax
base and community. Improved facilities will support competitive sports
teams, create better curb appeal and establish a greater sense of
Urgent Infrastructure Needs
of the district’s buildings have been neglected and are in disrepair.
Classrooms and school buildings equipped with state-of-the-art
technology will restore a sense of pride and motivation for students and
teachers to perform at a higher level. Basic repairs and replacements
need to be made, such as:
•Expanding classroom spaces to eliminate modular classrooms
•Retrofitting wiring for high speed Internet and wireless communication
•Abatement of asbestos associated with projects
•Replacing or repairing ventilation systems
•Creating safe age-appropriate play areas
•Replacing or repairing roofs and windows
•Replacing or repairing parking lots and walkways
20/20 vision is part of an ongoing, sustainable strategy to improve
education in the Mount Vernon School District. “By introducing, and
implementing a long-term sustainable vision for our schools we are
working to help break the cycle of poverty and provide an opportunity
for our students to achieve the American dream,” Dr. Hamilton said.