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Questions, Discussion Topics for Dr. Tommy Tomlinson
1. Dates the Superintendents were here? Tiny Talbot, Jim Longstreth, Walt Sickles,
Doug Magann? Where can I get this information exactly?
2. School board minutes--ean I have access to them? Where? When? How? Process?
3. Dr. Alexander mentioned an Alachuc County publication--What in the World is a
Middle School? Is there a copy? When? Who did this? How to get?
4. Jack Christian mentioned a blue ribbon task committee in the 60's to look at the
schools and make suggestions. Dr. Alexander in charge. Do you have a copy of
this or know where I could get a copy? When was this?
5. Can you give me your educational training and experience?
6. What connection have you had over the years with the middle schools?
7. Why do you think middle schools started in this county?
8. I know the Kettering Foundatbn was involved here in the late 60's and early 70's.
How? Why? Who made contact? Who financed this?
9. Kettering involved teachers from Spring Hill and Mebane? Why not teachers at
Ft. Clarke, Westwood, Bishop and Lincoln? Years of these 1973, 1972, 1972, 1974
10. What about middle school helped desegregation?
11. The six middle schools developed differently. Why?
12. Centralized management? When started? What influence on middle schools? When
school based management? Why centralized and why school based?
13. For a time there was a middle school director? Why established this position?
Why stopped this position?
14. Over the years how has the central office influenced middle schools?
15. Rezoning in middle schools? When and why and what effect on the various
16. I have a copy of court orders that spoke to the desegregation efforts here?
Was this the order that brought on the closing of schools in January and the shift
of teachers and other personnel, as well as students?
DR. TOMMY TOMLINSON 1-24-85
Deputy Superintendent 1--hours 4:15-5:45
Jean: Introductory remarks about dissertation with Paul George. I wanted to ask
you some questions because your name has come up in several different conversations
as possibly having some information you can give me on some of this.
One of the things that I'm interested in is finding out some more information
from here, so a couple of the questions I want to ask, just maybe you can help
me get some more information.
#1. Do you know the dates, I'm trying to pinpoint the exact years that Tiny
Talbot was here, Jim Longstreth, Walter Sickles, of course I haven't talked to
him at all, and exactly when Dr. Magann came. Do you know those exact dates off
the top of your head?
Dr.T: "Well, why don't we work it backwards. Let's go back to this past November.
Doug came here this November two years ago. So he has been here since" (pause)
Jean: That would have been November, 1982?
Dr. T: "I'm sorry, three years ago. November, 1981. Dr. Sickles was here for the four
years prior, th four years preceding that.
Jean: That would have been 1977?
Dr. T: "Then Jim Longstreth, well there was a gap between August of 1977 until
March, 1977. We had an interim Superintendent at that time while we were searching
for Dr. Sickles. In other words Jim Longstreth left us in March 19 1977 and was
here for the previous four years which would back it up to 1973. Of course Jim,
as you remember, was our first appointed Superintendent. Tiny Talbot had been
the Superintendent two elected terms so it wald be eight years backed off of
Jean: 1973 and eight from that would have been 1965?
Dr. T: "Right. I think in fact it was 1964 because there was s me rounding off in
there. We had about a six months interim between Longstreth and Sickles and then
we had a six months interim between Sickles and Magann. In other words Sickles
left in June and Magann came in November. We had the interim situation again
between those two gentlemen."
Jean: Another thing, there have been several things that have come up that somebody has
said, that would probably be in the school board minutes. Would I be able to
have access to looking back at school board minutes for information that I m ght
need, to pinpoint specific dates for things? #2
Dr. T: "We'll be happy for you to do this. What you do, Jean, is you call on one of
our two secretaries here and if you can give them the general time they can make
those books available to you. Minutes from that far back would already be put
into a bound form so they would be fairly easy to use. Hopefully we are not that
far behind in our filing.
Jean: Good, O.K. #3 Another thing, Dr. Alexander mentioned an Alachua County
publication, I think he said the title was "What in the World is a Middle School?"
Do you remember anything about that or do you know if there is a copy available?
He did not have one.
Dr.T: "I thought he was the mother of that?"
Jean: Was that what was called the blue ribbon task committee report? Was that the
Dr. T: "I always attributed that to Bill and Emmett Williams. That is in their era
wasn't it? I thought they were really the...."
Jean: I don't know. If so Dr. Alexander no longer has a copy. He said it was an
Alachua County publication. Now he may have been doing that for Alachua County.
Dr.T: "I don't have one myself but if we published it probably the most logical
person would be-----Joe Wood never throws anything away.
Jean: I'll check with him. I did not ask him this when I talked to him earlier.
Dr. T: "Not only was Joe a middle school Principal, one of the original in fact, he
has been the supervisor over the middle school ever since he has been on staff.
So he has been involved in middle schools, one way or another for 10 or 12 years.
Possibly we may even could retrieve it from the print shop records. I'm sure it
was printed out there if we did it. But I would imagine, did you ask Jack
Jean: I did not ask him about that one. He does not have, Jack talked about a
Blue Ribbon Task Committee report that was in, I think 1969. Dr. Alexander
was in charge of that. Dr. Alexander no longer had a copy of that and Jack said
in moving from office to office he has lost or thrown out things and he no
longer has a copy of that either. I didn't ask him about "What in the World is
a Middle School?"
Dr. T: "I think Joe Wood would be a good source and the print shop. Sue Griffith,
of course, has had very little to do with middle schools. Did you happen to
mention it to Crys Compton?"
Jean: She shared with me the things that she had. She didn't have that. She has
given me several things.
Dr.T: "I'll tell you one other person, Tom Diedeman."
Jean: Yes, I have talked to Tom. When I got to him he had just cleaned out. He
had thrown out a lot of tings.
Dr.T: "One other guy is John Spindler."
Jean: I have talked to John too. He might have that. I'm not sure that I asked him
about that. I'll check with him.
Dr. T: "Wasn't that title, "What in the World is a Middle School?"
Jean: "What in the World is a Middle School?" is what Dr. Alexander told me.
Dr.T.: "I remember that title, I remember very well."
Jean: ome of these people I talked to, for example, John Spindler way back in the
summer, last summer. So, I saw Dr. Alexander after that. Some of these people I
Dr. T.: "Another gal who never throws anything away is Ginger Childs. Marcia Brown
has been in since the ground floor too."
Jean: I have a box of things Marcia gave me. I haven't gone through all of her
Dr. T: "The gal that used to be the media specialist at Mebane and Lincoln."
Jean: Carol Stanley?
Dr. T: "Yes, Carol Stanley."
Jean: Yes, Ihave talked to her. I have talked to both of them and I have a whole box
of Marcia's things to go through.
Dr. T: "Marcia has been in on the middle school from the very beginning."
Jean: #5 Would you go back and give me your educational training and experience?
Dr.T: "Well, this is my 30th year in Alachua County. I had three years prior to
coming here so I'm in my 33rd year. Since I have been in Alachua County, I came as
a classroom teacher, which I did for four years in a junior high school. Then
after that I worked, Tiny Talbot was my Principal. I xas Assistant Principal at
the same school for four years under Sam Hendricks. Following that I was Principal
at the same school for three years. So I spent, a total of eleven years in the
same building. Then I moved..."
Jean: Where was that?
Dr. T: "Buchholz Junior High School. Following that I went to Howard Bishop. I was
the second Principal there. Sam Hendricks opened that building, he was there
three years. In fact he left in April of his third year and I moved in and finished
the year and then stayed all of the npt year. So I was there a year and three
months. Following that Mr. Talbot was elected Superintendent.
Jean: What year was that you were at Bishop?
Dr. T: "Well, that would be, must be, what?, 1964. Then the following year Mr..
Talbot brought me to the county staff. I was his administrative assistant for
one year and then ever since I have been Assistant Superintendent, Associate
Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, Interim Superintendent, and Acting
Superintendent. If you put all my interim together I almost have tenure as
Jean: What is your exact title right now?
Dr. T: "At the present time it is Deputy Superintendent and that primarily is working
with the six Assistant Superintendents. And also working directly with the Super-
intendent and the school board. I don't have, well right now directly I am in
charge oflt building---Kirby Smith, and data processing. This is a joint
thing between the SPperintendent. We supervise the data processing center and all
of its people, the word processing center and of course the custodians, the
building. Everything else falls under one of the other Assistant Superintendents.
Of course we have it set up that way because of Doug's intenseness in the computer
area. He is a glutton for information and it is quite important and to tell you
the damn truth he is the only one who knows anything about it to start with.
Normally in a situation like this the computer department would normally be
under the Assistant for Finance. Perhaps we'll be here someday when it gets
more on its feet. One other thing we supervise directly is, Dr. Lucas is in
charge of zoning, student objections and things like that. Also more important
is the evaluation of programs. That is pretty standard. Your evaluator usually
answers directly to the Superintendent because you don't want that person dominated
by anybody else because frequently that is who they are evaluating. You want a
check and balance system."
Jean: #6 What connection have you had over the years with middle schools?
Dr.T: "Well, I have had no direct supervision of them, Jean, other than working with
the Principals. Of course the zoning,attendance and transportation, things in
this area. Jack Christian has been the pusher, so far as the instructional
program is concerned, but I, of course, drew many of the zone lines that cut
the middle school into existence. Of course, as you know, we started here in
Gainesville when we were able to reopen the Lincoln building. This was what
provided the leap into middle schools. We brought John Spindler back from
Mebane and appointed John to an empty building, let him pick his own staff and
create a middle school which we opened up with about 1,000 kids. Then of course
we had the task of changing Bishop and Westwood to middle schools. One of the
things we did pruposely, the Principals at those middle schools were encouraged
that all vacancies they had for the following year, that first middle school
year, to fill those vacancies with elementary teachers. We felt like we had
a major job on our hands to turn these experienced junior high teachers into middle
school teachers. Many of those people had been teaching ten or fifteen years in
the junior high and had developed the junior high process, and as you well know,
some of them haven't, their heads still haven't been turned. That was the thing
we instructed them to go heavy on the elementary, upper elementary, fifth and
Jean: Did you feel like elementary teachers fit more with the middle school?
Dr.T: "What we felt like is we went overboard with elementary we felt like we could
convert the junior high teachers more quickly. We felt like the elementary
teachers were already more middle school oriented than the junior high people.
We were really trying to flood these schools with some middle school influence.
Of course, as you know, back then, I don't think middle school even had a
certification at the time. People were just beginning to crack the University,
taking middle school orientation and classes. We were getting a sprinkling
of those people out, which helped us. We appointed, we moved Joe Wood from
Idlywild Elementary to Westwood Middle School because Joe had had a successful
tenure as an elementary school Principal and we felt like this would also get
that school. Russell Simmons had been the only Principal the school had ever had
and Russell was strictly a junior high person. We had to do as much as we could
to get a middle school foothold."
Jean: Did Russell Simmons retire? Or did he move somewhere else?
Dr.T: "Russell retired."
Jean: Then Joe moved in?
Dr.T: "Yes, Joe moved in. Course Bishop has had, since I left there, they have had
a series of Principals, probably a dozen, but it operated several years as
strictly a 7,8,9 school before it was converted at the same time Lincoln was.
Of course, as you know, Ft. Clarke came in the early 1970's. Ft. Clarke and
Lincoln were the only two that, well if they weren't what we wanted it was our
own fault because we built them from the ground up including staff and Principals."
Jean: Spring Hill was the same, wasn't it?
Dr. T: "Spring Hill was, came into being when we totally integrated the system.
Because of the time we had to push the black school and the white school and
it is a product of the merging of the two schools. Yes, I would say that Spring Hill
and Mebane both were on the original cutting edge. They were involved in the
Kettering Foundation, in all the visitations and workshops and money that was
plowed into those two kids. They have always been schools of 5,6,7,8, which is a
little different from most schools."
Jean: Why do you think Spring Hill and Mebane were set up with the grade levels as
they were and schools in the city were set up 6,7,8?
Dr.T: "Well, a lot of people when you talk middle school with them, I reduce it rather
simple. A lot of middle schools are organized depending on how many the building
will hold. That is not a real good way to organize a school but sadly that is
the way a lot of them are organized. That was strictly the way those two were
organized because at the time you could not get, when we integrated the system
at Alachua and High Springs, you could not get the fifth grade into the elementary
schools. The logical place then would be to go to the middle schools because
back then the larger your grade the smaller the smaller number of kids you had.
You could put four of the higher grades where it took three of the elementary.
That was really where it got started. That is not a good way but personally I
would like to see some day standard in the form system. We have so many
peculiarities I'm not sure we'll ever have that. You know, we have the Hawthorne
situation which is 7-12, K-6. Newberry and Archer are the same way. Those kids
there, the parents feel like, they need a middle school. Then of course, you
know, at Waldo we have a K-6. Those kids leave up there in the sixth grade and
come into to Lincoln and compete for just two years, 7th and 8th grade. Whatever
is sacred and good that sixth graders get at Lincoln the Waldo kids don't get it.
They don't get there until seventh grade. We kind of have a mixture. Personally
I would like to see us go to a uniform--there must be evidence and research,
motherhood and apple pie, there must be some of those reasons that would point
out that a particular grade make-up is best. But it is one of the most difficult
things in the world to get anybody who is connected with the middle schools to say.
You can go to a conference and ask an innocent question, what is the ideal make-up
of a.middle school? You'll get 45 minutes of statistics and numbers, none of
which will make any sense. In fact they quit inviting me to middle school
conferences because I would always ask that question. I have heard middle
school, as a matter of fact I visited one not long ago that was 4-9."
Jean: Oh, where was that?
Dr.T: "In Madison County. That happens to be what the building will hold. There
are all kinds of gyrations. We even had one one time, when we first integrated
the system, we had a 5,6,7. It was over at, most people forgot about it."
Jean: Was that at Douglas? No, Shell.
Dr.T: "It was down at Shell and Oliver Jones was one of the last Principals there
and Olive Scott. In fact most people forgot we had three schools then. Then
we tore the old two story building down and expanded Shell and built the new
junior senior high school. What I'd like to see us do would be in places like
Hawthorne, Newberry, where the numbers are going to be down, particularly
Hawthorne, is carve out a section there and make a small self-contained junior
high type thing where tbse kids don't have to battle all day with the high school
thing. At least restrict as much of their activity in the main building because
we have almost enough buildings outside the main building, with a little construction,
about the only time a kid would have to come in the main building would be for
lunch. You could do the same thing at Newberry but it would cost a little bit
of money to do that. Another thing it would do would reduce your numbers in the
high school building. Of course Hawthorne only has 550 kids total, 7-12. 2/3 of
them are in the first three grades. Their senior class only has 67 kids in it.
Newberry is a different thing. Newberry namages to have about 100 kids
per grade, which is about the minimum. I see the Newberry area, depending on
what we do with this zoning. If we don't affect the Newberry area at all it is
going to be enough natural growth with people moving out of Gainesville, going
out and getting themselves five acres and a mule in the country, that will be in
the Newberry zone that they are going to need a middle school."
Jean: Things seem to be moving more that way than any other.
Dr.T: "Well, see, to the east you have almost a natural log. Lincoln can't grow
because of Newnan's Lakeyso much of the land is owned by Owen-Illinois Pulp Co.
l t"eh > Mwei'cflS P&^ Iwnau L \
Then you are only 12 miles from Hawthorne. To make matters worse, 1- miles
from Hawthorne is the Putnam County line. You can't grow south because you are
into Lochloosa, Orange Lake and Marion County. Plus the paper companies own
practically all the land. Then of course going north you run into the same
type situation. You also run into Waldo. Course those people prefer, Waldo
doesn't particularly identify with Hawthorne."
Jean: I can see that they wouldn't.
Dr. T: "They would rather identify with Gainesville. Of course Waldo is another
story in itself. They are sitting up there with K-6 and 205 kids. It is not
a cost effect thing with that few kids. But on the other hand we just got
through spending about $700,000 renovating that (unclear) I can under-
stand that. If I lived in that small town I'd probably be fighting to keep it
open too. Looking at it strictly economically it is not cost effective but in
spite of that the board is committed to spending additional funds as supplements
to those small schools to being them up to pretty much the same programs as the
others. It costs extra bucks."
Jean: #7 Why do you think that middle schools started in this county? There have
been different definitions. Some people I have talked to thought it was more
educational, some people thought it was really tied to integration.
Dr.T: "I would refute integrationbecause I don't think any of us were smart enough to
think of that. We thought of a lot of things but that is one of them we didn't
think of. I think what it was it was a national sweep that was coming. Back at
that time we were really noted for, if you wanted us to try it just run it by, you
didn't have to stop, we would just grab it on the way through. I always resented,
I told you earlier I spent eleven years in the junior high school and I thought
we were doing one hell of a job. Then I woke up one morning and read the paper and
found out the junior highs had failed and you know we had been so damn busy
working hard and doing a good job we didn't realize we had failed. We kind of had
our nose to the grindstone. We found out from a lot of people that we were
failing miserably every day. All of a sudden we were going to convert to a
middle school and of course no one knew what a middle school was. I kept asking
irritating questions like what grades, how many kids, and no one knew and that
made them mad and I finally decided to shut up and go with the flow. That
included Bill Alexander and Emmett Williams. I used to tease Emmett all the time.
I said, Emmett you have a good gimmick here but no one knows anything about it. You
know Bill was writing and lecturing and of course Paul came along later.
You know the middle school would run me nuts as a Principal if I ran it the
way it should be run as I understand the middle school. Because I was strictly a
junior high person and all of my background was there. Course I came to find
out the problem... (end of side #1 tape) In the schools we had created there
was nothing for the kids to look forward to when they got to high school. Course
that was only for the uninformed people who really didn't know what we were doing.
That really wasn't true at all. We used to have, in my school particularly, we
had a beautiful articulation program with Gainesville High School, that was the
only school we had. We would invite their whole faculty over to our place and
we would take our faculty over to their place. We would talk about it. Oscar
Servant would say well now in Algebra I'm doing this and this is where I stop.
Then Ruth Wallace would say well, hell you ought to go another week. I would
say, Ruth, th best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your arm so
maybe you could stoop down and pick them up one week if Oscar can't get them up..
Maybe Oscar can get them up. We would have these kind of sessions. These people
would be on the phone to each other about it. How much are you going to cover?
You know when I came into education in 1952 they told be two things. First
thing I learned from Kim Wiles. Kim said the curriculum was full and there was
no articulation and communication. All we have done for 33 years is add to the
curriculum, the one that was full, and hell we still are not articulating or
communicating. Nothing changes. I don't think, seriously, that any of us had
enough foresight to connect it with integration. Now I can name a lot of things
that did come out, that were created in the name of progress, that were to retard
integration. But that was not one of them. I think it was a national sweep. It
was, you know, I'm sure there was a lot of validity to the fact, but you know, in
grade make-up it doesn't matter where you draw the line.. There is a mother who
thinks her kid is too young to go into the next level. I don't give a damn.
When the kindergartener leaves home, oh my God what is he going to do with all
those other 4 or 5 year olds.. Then when he leaves the fifth or sixth grade
for the horrible middle school, God, all those sixth graders are going to be up
there with those eighth graders. Then we promote him to the ninth and there he
is 14 or 15 years old and all the Mothers are concerned about their ninth grade
daughters being enamored with the twelfth grade boys. I know damn well that
when a kid leaves twelfth grade and goes as a Freshman, I know the Mothers and
Fathers go into hysteria because I'm in the middle of it myself. So whenever you
draw the line there is going to be apprehension, like when you draw a zone line.
When you draw a zone line you draw it down the middle of the street because
no one lives there. Then people say you have separated the neighborhood. The
kids across the street that play with my kids go to a different school. Well,
where would you like f ut us to move it? Well, why don't you move it three
blocks over there? You move it over there and then you have gored a different
ox. Then these people say why didn't you leave it where you had it. I don't know
and I'm not sure anyone has determined yet through any type of scientific, medical
or developmental process if 6, 7th and 8th is better than 5, 6th or 7th. I think,
of course I sometimes give a smart answer, but I think the best think that has ever
come out of the middle school movement, one of the very best, is it got the ninth
grade into the high school. That doesn't have a think to do with middle schools.
For the first time it put the ninth grade in there where a kid could have a
four year developmental program. I think that, to me, is one thing we ought to
thank the middle school for. If it did nothing else it forced us, in other words we
don't know what the bottom best rate is but we all know that the eighth grade is
the maximum. We don't know what the minimum is because I think we take liberties
with the fourth, fifth and sixth. But we all pretty well agree that the eighth
is the top. That is most important anyway, I think. But we have done weird
things like at Mebane, we had had the fifth up there with those horrible sixth,
seventh and eighth graders. But we grew a group of parents one day who just went
into hysteria about mixing those fifth graders with those eighth graders. So we
went up there, to keep peace in the family, we went up there and self contained
those fifth graders within the Mebane building and let those sixth, seventh and
eighth graders run their flexible schedule. Just self contained the fifth grade.
Well, it happened, what I thought would happen. Pretty soon the fifth graders
put so much pressure on the parents that we were able to mix them back the next
year, and we never have had any more porblems. The main thing is that those
parents developed, the kids didn't develop a whole lot more. It wasn't worth the
battle anyway because if you have to fight the parents you might as well wise up,
go with the flow and get their support. Which worked out for us."
Jean: #8 I know the Kettering Foundation was involved here in the late 1960's or
early 1970's. Do you know how that came about or how they became involved here?
Dr.T: "I don't know all about the details except that I know that Kettering was
interested in the middle school movement. I don't know who was instrumental in
getting us into that. I know Mary Carew had some part in it. It enabled us to..."
Jean: I don't know her, who is Mary Carew?
Dr.T.: "Mary Carew, at the time, was our grants writer. Of course she had been
elementary supervisor, early childhood teacher, but at the time was working with
the federal program. It enabled us to do-a lot of visiting in middle schools, for
us to do a lot of staff development, we were ablt to bring in some pretty high
Jean: They were underwriting this? They were providing the money?
Dr. T.: "I don't remember all the details but I know the district was getting, most
of the funding was coming from them. Course what they were doing they were
showcasing this to schools all over the nation and that is why still, those two
schools, we get requests every week for somebody to visit from Gos knows where.
Because they are typical middle school and I think another- thing that makes them
attractive is the Mebane school was created out of the ashes of an old black
K-12 school. It is in the same building. Spring Hill came out of the same type
situation but it is in a new building, open design building. They both have
limited population. This is what makes them look attractive to some of the small
districts that want to visit from Carolina, Virginia, Georgia. Hell, they have
had them from Canada and everywhere else. They have been well visited and well
written up and I would say that probably Spring Hill more so than Mebane is
typical Middle School. Course it still has the influence of John Spindler.
He has perpetuated the same thing at Lincoln. John probably, you could cut him
and he would bleed middle school, he really protects not only the curriculum but
logistics and mechanics of middle school. He has maintained the integrity, I
would say he is more middle school than any other. That is because he has been
the only Principal there, hw has had continuity. He has chosen to employ and
select those kind of people who think and do like he does. Like I told him, my
God, if you don't like it you only have yourself to blame. Course we have
assigned him some people but I would say 90% of them have been his own choice."
Jean: I know the Kettering Foundation involved the teachers from Spring Hill and
Mebane from the very beginning and I don't think other teachers, from as far as
I have been able to determine, that Westwood, Ft. Clarke, Lincoln and Bishop, the
teachers from those places were not involved ever like with the Kettering people.
Do you know why other teachers weren't involved in Kettering?
Dr.T: "I think they were looking for a pilot thing. Course we were stumbling along.
We didn't know if we were doing something good or bad. Funds not only our funds, but
their funds, we felt like we had a receptance to try something new.
(Jack Christian came in to talk to Tommy---chit chat for a few minutes.)
Jack said, Let me say this as a sidelight. Even 6 to 8 years after we had gone
into it, Tommy would catch me at a meeting and say, Jack, tell me what a middle
Dr. T.: "Hey, I have this on tape here. I-did that to Bill Alexander and Emmett
Williams at a state conference and they never did invite me back."
Jean: # 11 We talked a little about the six middle schools that developed differently.
Why do you think these six middle schools we have in this county developed so
Dr.T.: "I think it was the way we constructed the staff. Also the type of administrative
leadership plus from the district level, you know we had some big gaps where we
didn't have all that much leadership. It was either elementary or secondary and
we had things like certification, textbooks, organization, there was so much, that
well I can remember very plainly we sent Joe Wood to Westwood and said hey we
want a middle school. That is about how much instruction we gave him. He went
out there and inherited about 30 teachers. Good junior high teachers. He brought
in about 15 good elementary teachers. They sat there and said hey we have a middle
school. They had a good junior high right on. Fortunately either way they went
would be good. Then you had, well, I think a lot of it was being receptive.
ExmR Tom Diedeman was always receptive. Even Lymus Burgess, who was the principal
at Mebane, Lymus was receptive to the standpoint of....(unclear) Course
Spindler has been the only one they have ever had at Lincoln. Bill Cake going
to Ft. Clarke may not have been, Bill did a good job, but Bill did not have any
elementary or middle school experience. Bill, what little he had, he had been
a junior high Ag riculture teacher and then he had been Vocational Supervisor.
Bill did a good job but he was not a middle school pick. Then of course like
I said about Bishop, Bishop has had a series of administrators. Proba ly the one
you have now is the most middle school. I know he has a lot more middle school
than I ever had, not that I had the chance. But you had people like Roy Tower,
Jim Temple, Dan Boyd, John Perdue, some of these you probably don't even know."
Jean: No, I came under John Perdue.
Dr. T: "You came with John? You came there the year after I left. Then you have
worked for all these others I have named off and you probably have a better,
just in my limited opinion, you probably have the best middle school program now
than you have ever had. Tom Marcy, Tom had no middle school background, except
we had stuck him in at Ft. Clarke, but up unto that time he had been a social
studies teacher at high school. Whatever introduction he had to middle school
he got under Bill Cake who had none. Bill was his Principal. We had Bill Cliett,
Tom March, Bob Dykes and somebody else. We had four of them as Assistant Principals
at Ft. Clarke when they opened up. All of them were 1 time Assistant Principals
and time teachers. There were two units, four half time, None of the fellows,
except Bill Cliett, had really had that kind of experience. You can take even
our elementary schools. They all have their own personalities. In particular,
you know for years here we would put a Principal in a building and he would stay
there until it burned or he died. Recently we have been moving people around and
we are getting more into the female and more into the black. We are looking at,
administratively, in other words we wouldn't think of putting a Principal in an
elementary school today without classroom experience in the elementary school.
But that doesn't hold true on the middle and high school."
Jean: Why do you think that is true?
Dr.T.: "It is personalities. Plus another thing. You can be a Principal at a middle
school and you can get by on curriculum without being an expert, but you go in
that elementray school when you have no Assistant Principal, all you have is a
CRT and you better know curriculum. Years ago when I first came to county if an
elementary Principal could count to 30 and divide his kids that was about all he
needed to do, and hire some good teachers and stay out of their way. But today the
elementary thing is so complicated and so involved, you have so much to do and
you still have the same amount of help you had 20 years ago, you really have less,
we used to have Assistant Principals in elementary. At the middle school the
Principal is usually not so much involved in the day to day curriculum anyway. I
think that is probably why. Course even at the high school Mae Islar has 4
Assistant Principals, 3 or 4 deans, department chairmen, committee chairmen,
steering committees so she is an expeditor, organizer. But that poor elementary
guy, he is down there and a lot of times he has the same forms to fill out as
the Principal with three Assistants. Sometimes, well, take for instance,
Alachua Elementary, K-4. It has 675 kids. You have one guidance counselor, one
CRT, and one media specialist. You go up the hill there 3/4 of a mile and you
have Mebane Middle School with 550 kids, you have 125 less, with an Assistant
Principal, Dean, 11- guidance counselors and department chairmen, twice as many
secretaries, but 125 less kids. Waldo, you have 205 kids in elementary school.
John Rawls at Idlywild has about 702. They have the same number of forms, same
number of things to do, they have about 1/3 the number of kids."
Jean: Several people, particularly the Principals when I have talked to them have talked
about the difference between centralized management and school based management.
I know that has had an influence on middle school and can you tell me what, from
your perspective, has been the influence and can you tell me exactly when this
Dr.T: "School based management started about six months after Longstreth came. That
was his baby--his call to fame. That was the year that the state legislature and
the Commissioner of Education, Ralph Turlington, they came out, they tried to
pass legislation that all schools would move immediately to school based management,
all districts. Well they weren't able to get that much teeth in it. But they did
come in, with a directive from the D.O.E., that all districts should make
immediate plans to move with due haste to school based management. Well, there
was nothing that came with it except the edict. So, Jim, had just come from
Charlotte County. He was a shaker, he liked to do things. I used to tease him,
I said, you know it doesn't always have to be better as long as it is different.
Anyway he came up with that. We brought Bill Dickey in as a budget man who was
in tune with that sort of thing too,. We jumped into it, like the Baptists you
know, over our heads, we didn't sprinkle at all like the Methodists. I mean we
went whole hog. With little or no inservice for Principals, little or no guide-
lines, I liked the idea of theschool based management if you do it entirely. But
if you do it entirely some of the schools can't survive, some of the administrators,
some of the kids and teachers. But what we did, we said we had it then we went
back and patched all the problems. It really was, probably it was the most that
was being done in the state at that time. Well, at the summer conference, our
FASA conference, the first summer, Jim and I and all the ones who went down to
Orlando. As we were so far out in the front Jim was on the panel to tell every-
body there how good we were doing in school based management. We had another
guy from Key West. They were doing some things. Then you know how you do a
panel. You have 2 or 3 present and then you have somebody react. The guy who
had to react was the high school Principal from over at Starke. He wouldn't
recognize school based management if it ran over him. We had two reactors, we
had Ralph Turlington and Jim Duncan. After Jim Longstreth and the old boy from
Key West got up and told everybody how much they were doing and how great it was,
Ralph stood up and said, well, I knowwe sent this information that you'll should
move with speed but be careful. Don't drown yourself. That just gave the whole
audience the credence that they had known all the while; we aren't going to do a
damn thing cause here the Commissioner has just said be careful. Consequently very
little was ever done. We plowed ahead but cause school based management means, to
me, that your school gets exactly what it earns and it gets the same amount per
pupil that any other school gets, within the district. If you do that you condemn
the small schools. At the same time you make the large schools wealthy because
in ??? you can do that. A lot of your set costs are the same if you
have 1,000 kids or 200 kids. The kid generates the same FTE money at Waldo as he
does at Idlywild. If you give Waldo the amount of money they generate--State,
Feds and then give them the same amount of local money that you give Idlywild you
would have to close Waldo up. There would be an insurrection. They can't operate
on that. In other words what you do y u come back with such a limited program you
almost eliminate physical educatbn, guidance."
Jean: Just the sheer numbers would not qualify them for having those programs?
Dr. T.: "No, and that throws a heavier load on the administrator because he has to
pull up the slack and fill out the same form, fill out the same stuff. Most of the
rural schools will tell you right now they are not treated fairly. They don't get
as much as you do at Bishop, and they don't. They get more. To sit down and take
a budget, it is complicated to explain it to a bunch of lay people, look they get
more than the people in Gainesville get. You take over at Hawthorne High School...
(end of tape)
Tape #2, Side #3
at least two years in each language. In some of those classes there will be
7,8 or 9 kids. It costs just as much to pay that teacher as it does the teacher
over at your school with 31. Your teacher is bringing in 31 x $1500 and this
teacher is bringing in $1500 x 8. It makes a difference."
Jean: You referred a few minutes ago to this, for a time there was a middle school
director here. You were talking about how the middle school didn't have anybody.
For awhile there was a person, I know Crys Compton served in that role for a
period. Do you remember why that was created and why they did away with it?
Dr.T: "I believe Crys was the only person we ever had that was directly responsible
for middle schools. I think it would be safe to say that it was a way of comsuming
some employees at the time. It was almost a personality thing. I think Crys was
primarily oriented to the middle school and the two people we had at the time
were not and did not really care to be. That seemed to be where Crys' interest
was and course you know Jack has a pretty large staff anyway and that was more or
less the way he divided it up. He has had all kinds of configurations. He has had
K-12, like he has it now he has elementary and secondary. He has had Special
Education under him and he hashad it out from under him. You have all those
overlapping things. I have been surprised really, even on the state level, that
middle schools are still not recognized. I really don't know what they have to
do to prove themselves or to become eligible for knighthood or citizenship."
Jean: Or just plain recognize that we exist.
Dr. T: "In fact I'm not so sure that if you counted the middle school kids now in the
state of Florida you might have more than you have at the high school."
Jean: Do you know why they stopped having this position of middle school director? #13
Did they feel like they didn't need this or was it money?
Dr.T.: "I think anytime Jack makes a change it is usually because of confusion or
overlapping or falling in the crack or something that he feels like he can get
better coverage and better articulation between his people and I think, I'm sure he
would say the same thing, sometime it gets into personalities. Probably the two
people he has right now work together as harmoniously as any body he has ever had.
Jean: That is Joe Wood and Sue Griffith?
Dr. T.: "Joe Wood as secondary and Sue Griffith as elementary. Neither one of them
are after, they don't want to be king, they are low key people, they are detail
people, Jack is the shaker and they pick up the details and get it done. They
are both individuals that they don't want to be Superintendent or Principals. They
have done that. They like the comfort of knowing that Jack is there and in
support of them. In other wrods they aren't inAadministrative role, a hatchet
person, they are in an isntructive and supervisory role. This is what they both
prefer, and consequently that is why they get along so well together. I know
Jack from time to time has changed K-12. He'll cut it and divide it, then put it
back together, then he'll weld in the Special Education. It has a lot to do with
personalities because probably really it doesn't make any difference as long as
the people are working together and cooperate.
I don't think it is inconceivable that the middle school would not someday
have their own place in the sun because, you know two years ago we didn't have any
supervisors and I didn't personally think I would live to see us have supervisors
again. I think when Doug Magann came in here he was appalled that'we had so few.
He felt like to improve the curriculum and move it along you needed somebody in
charge specifically instead of one person being in charge of everything and
consequently being in charge of nothing. I think personally this group of super-
visors we have now are second to none. I'm very impressed with them. I think they
give a lot of help to the schools. I know they take a heck of a lot of the load
off of Jack and Joe Wood, I know the Superintendent feels comfortable with them
because if he wants to know something about math he doesn't call Jack, he calls
Totsye Conner. That is the way they operate. Course I think we'll have more
supervisors, it is conceivable, a director of middle schools someday.
Jean: As it gets bigger you nedd more people.
Dr. T.: "There is one thug I was going to mention a while ago when we were talking
about school based management. Probably the biggest problem with it if you are
not careful you give away all the responsibility with no accountability. That
was the most frustrating thing I found about school based management. I can
remember dozens of times parents would come to a board meeting, unannounced, in
the last of October or first of November just mad as hell wanting to know why
there were 36 kids in their child's third grade class. Well, at that point you
had two choices. You could throw your Principal and his staff to the wolves and
give an explanation or you could sit there and shuffle your weight back and forth
and dance around the point and say, well, we'll look into it. That is like
referring something to a committee--look into it. Then you have board members.
They are on the political hot seat. Some of them know and some don't know why
there are 36 in a class. The reason--now what you would like to say, of course
Jack would bite his tongue, but what you would like to say is this, we have sent the
money out there to provide 28 kids per teacher. They have the money. They as a
staff, voted, instead of having four third grade teachers with 25-28 in a class,
they would have three third grade teachers with 36 in a class and they took the
rest of that money to buy a Xerox machine with it. Or they would hire 4 or 5
teachers' aides to go with those teachers. That is school based management.
That is your decision to make. Well, see that mother that is standing up mad
as hell she doesn't give a damn about how much money you sent out there, all she
knows is there are 36 kids every time she goes to visit. It is overcorwded and
it is too many. So that is an example of the responsibility. You don't have any
control, it is like a boat withAa rudder.
Now where :.e made our mistake in school hsed management we did not sit down
and say O.K. you have some latitude but you don't have total latitude. You have
all the latitude you want as long as there aren't but 28 kids in that class.
If there is any money left over, or flexibility, you a e free to use it. God, we
had aides, we had all kinds of, xerox machines that wouldn't fit in this office, it
would almost come and get your paper and take it bakc to you. It would collate,
staple, or throw it at you. Course that is good if that is what you want to do.
But that is hard to sit in a -ublic meeting and explain that to some woman who doesn'
care. She wants to know can't the teacher write on the board, why do they need a
Also like on utilities. We know pretty close what it takes to utility Toward
Bishop for a year. We would plug that into the budget, well along about April
15, ya'll had used all your utility money. The heat is going and the windows
are open. You didn't have any trouble with your air-conditioning. With that
many people there is just a lot of waste, let's face it. So what do you do, you
say well, Rarry that is great, you had your money and you frittered it all away.
Sell some candy. No what we do is we come back and plug in about $20,000. That
is not school based management. School based management says ,r. Conner, that is
a real interesting story. Now my advice to you is look at your budget and juggle
your funds around and have as many retailers as you can buy the rest of the year.
That is school hsed management.
Another thing we did in school based management; school based management if you
take it to the nth degree the payroll is exactly based on what each individual
makes. You have a teacher with 20 years experience and one with one year's
experience. You pay whatever the payroll totals. We felt like if you left it
that way a Principal would go out and hire all beginning teachers. He would take
the rest of his money and buy xerox machines with it, or something. So what we
did, we went in and said, don't worry about salaries because what we are going to
put into your budget is the average teacher salary. You'll have some above and
some below. The average will be there. It worked out pretty good but that is not
real school based management. What you ought to tell your Pirncipals is this, I
better not catch you hiring all beginning teachers because I'm still inspecting
your kids and your scores and your tests and this and that and you better do
whatever it takes to get it done.
I think you could develop a good set of standards and guidelines to follow and
have a good school based management if you put enough stop gaps, checks and balances
in there. I think I could do it now that I have lived through it."
Jean: Did you have school based management under Dr. Sickles?
Dr. T.: "It started under Jim. We had three years under Jim. Then when Walt came in
people like Jack, me, Fred and others were so tired of it, we had been de-fanged
almost of responsibility. Walt had the type of personality that it drove him up
the wall anyway, school based management did. It wasn't too hard to convince
him that we ought to pull everything back and that is when we did it. Of course
Doug came in then and he is probably somewhere in between. That is probably about
where we are now, somewhere in between. We are more structured than we were."
Jean: I had a question about rezoning in the middle school. I know rezoning, I
can't remember when it came that affected the middle schools, back in the late
1970's. Can you give me some background on that?
Dr.T: "The last rezoning we did in this district was the middle schools. Jim Akaggs
and I did the middle schools. They had gotten out of kilter racially and capacity.
He and I spent a considerable bit of time, we started in December and we worked
for six months on that."
Jean: Was that 1978?
Dr.T.: "Yes. We finally got it out, got it before the board, got it passed and it is
the same zone lines you have today."
Jean: That went into effect the fall of 1979?
Dr.T: "Yes. What we did when you are dealing with only four buildings and you have
all this land area to work with, we put all the schools within 50 kids of the same
number and we put them all within 1% of the same racial makeup and in the six
years that have followed those schools have stayed the closest. I wish I could
remember how we did it. Right now you won't find from high to low over 100 kids
difference and we haven't touched them in six years."
Jean: That is amazing.
Dr.T.: "Racially I don't think you will find over 10%. We just happened to luck up
on some good lines. It has worked out real well. Course the building that has
continually had the highest population is Lincoln, but that is the biggest
building. The one that has worked out to have the lowest is Ft. Clarke and that
is the smallest building. I wish we could say we did that on purpose but we
Jean: I think I need to let you go and get home, you have another meeting shortly.
Dr. T.: "No, go ahead we can finish up here."
Jean: I have a copy of the court orders that I got from Jim Lang's office. His
secretary got these for me. ( handed papers to Tommy) Jack said when the court
order came in 1969, then the schools were closed in 1970 for awhile and reorganized.
Do you know if this, this was from the U.S. District Court for the northern district
of Florida? Lavon Wright VS the Board of Public Instruction. Is this the court
order Jack was referring to?
Dr. T.: "No, that wasthe orgiinal. Well, I can't tell unless I read it all but the
original .court order, when we were originally taken to court in the early 1960's
it was because we were not integrated at all. That was done by Lavon Wright,
Tom Wright was her father. Reverend Wright is over here at the church now."
Jean: Is that Phil Wright's father?
Dr. T.: "Yes, that is Phil's father. That was the orignial court order. It would
either be in 1962 or 1963. Now it may have stayed in that same name all down
through the years."
Jean: Yes, I think that is what it was. This one was saying that ( Jean read from
the court order). (Handed the order to Tommy) You can look, you have probably
seen it more and can recognize it more quickly. (There was a pause while Tommy
looked and read.)
Dr. T.: "We had so many of these things. Let's see what the date is on here. He
has given you about a dozen. Yes, I think that is what they did, Jean, they
just kept the original plaintiff, course we were the defendants all the way
through. This was Lavon Wright and there were a couple of other kids, there were
about three or four of them. This was all rehearsed and planned by the NAACP.
The integration procedure, it was good that they did this. I was Principal at
Buchholz at the time and I had the first seven black children at my school the
second year I was a Principal. They were put there, not by zoning, but by what
we call pupil assignment.
Back then if you wanted to go to a different school other than where you
would reasonably be expected to go, we didn't have any lines, you could petition
the Superintendent's office. They had a committee who would look at it and tell
you no. Well these families did that and they were told no. So they started the
court procedure. The school board saw the handwriting on the wall. That is when
I came into the district office. They decided well we can't get by with this
student assignment anymore so we developed what we called the freedom of choice
plan. If you were black, well what I did, I prepared lists showing what grades
were taught where in every school in the county, and if you were black we would
give you a sheet and you could pick any school in Alachua County. If you were in
the fifth grade you could go to any school in the county where fifth grade was
taught, any school in the county. Now we would transport you if you needed
transportation, we would transport you to the predominately black school where
you were expected to go, or to the closest predominately white school. You had
two choices. If you didn't like either one of them, hell, you could go anywhere
you wanted. If you were white you could go to the closest you were expected to
to to, predominately white, and that was the only one we would transport you to,
you had a designated transport school, you had one, the black kids had two.
I wrestled that thing for several years and we developed what I thought was
a pretty gamn good plan. We had, at that time, about 7,000 black kids in the
county. It resulted in about 1500 of those kids going to predominately white
schools. The problem was, course we would have to file twice a year with the
federal courts, hell, everybody, all these statistics. We had to show what progress
we were making. What would happen, Lincoln was sitting there 7-12 with 1300 kids
and three of them were white. Mebane sitting up here K-12 with 1200 kids and
none of them white. A.Q. Jones sitting over here with 600 kids, K-6, elementary,
with 2 white kids. The courts said, hey this ain't doing it. You still have
racially identifiable schools. We had no white schools racially identifiable
because we had had enough black selection but we couldn't get you and others to go
to Lincoln and Mebane and places like that. So that was not accepted.
One of the last things we got taken to court about was Williams and Duval.
I drew a zone line around Williams and a zone line around Duval, about eight
blocks square. We ran the buildings over with kids, didn't have the first bus
going in there, didn't need them, hell, they could walk. Duval was 95% black
and Williams was 90%. The courts said these are racially identifiable. That is
when we came up with the stroke of genius of clustering. Remember that? We
turned Duval into a fifth and sixth grade center and clustered it with Metcalfe
and Foster that were K-4. We did the same thing with Williams and hooked it to
Terwilliger and Little wood. That was the last time they took me to court was on
that. They said, finally you have done it.
One of the most interesting things I ever participated in, we had tried the
the bond issue in 1968 and we lost it by 27 votes. We came back and passed it.
We started the bond issue. We had Buchholz, Eastside, we had about six or eight
buildings under construction trying to get ready to integrate. Well, we met and
we divided the teachers and kids, this was all on paper. In other words we knew
in November where you were going to go to school the next September. We had it all
worked out. The buildings were all under construction. We were taken to court
in Houston. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Tiny and me and our attorney took
off to Houston. Three country boys going to town. We went into this building
that was about the size of the O'Connell building's floor."
Jean: This was in 1969?
Dr. T.: "This was in December, 1969. There were thirteen districts that had been
summoned from all over the southeast to tell why you had been dragging your feet."
Jean: This was the U.S. District Court?
Dr. T.: "The U.S. District Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. That is when I found out
what enbloc meant. Course you already know that." (Tommy said what I thought
sounded like enbock)
Jean: No, I don't. Enbock?
Dr. T.: "These judges started walking out there and there were 14 of them, there
were two tiers, that is what enbloc meant, I found out later. There were so
many of them they couldn't get them all on one row. There were 14 judges. I
looked up there and the lat sucker to walk out was Harold Carswell, who had been
our judge through all this local stuff. He had been appointed to the court. Out
of the thirteen districts, we stayed there 4 days, thirteen districts and we were
the last one to be heard. I don't know how in the world they ever figured out
who would go first. We didn't dare go out, we listened to every case and there
were some of the most pitiful cases I ever heard presented, I would have been
embarrassed. We showed up, we had ours bound, typed, ready for distribution, we
had our zone maps, we had pictures of the schools under construction, walls half
finished. We showed where we had already moved teachers and kids, totally
desegregated. When we made our presentation, I say we, I mean our attorney did,
course we had to wind him up."
Jean: This was, who was it?
Dr. T.: "This was Harry Duncan. Judge Wisdom was the presiding judge. He was about
this tall. (held hand up in the air) He wore glasses like yours (half glasses)
only not as big. He was just high enough to see over the counter. Griffin Bell,
who was to be the attorney general later, was one of the judges. I was impressed.
In fact, I had the distinction of being asked a question by the 14, I had to
answer, I am in the record. It was a real important question too, Griffin Bell
wanted to know, he said, Alachuway, he said, I go down to Micanopy, I go bird
hunting down there. Well, I thought we are among home folks here. All these damn
lawyers. He says, Gainesville, he says, Gainesville H.gh, that is where they
have that good black quarterback, Eddie McShan? I thought, man we done arrived."
Jean: We have us a buddy here, huh?
Dr. T.: "Anyway we presented our case and Griffin Bell said when we got through, it
took us half a day to present our case. Carswell excused himself and didn't hear
us, but we had thirteen judges. They all looked at each other and eulogized
and patted us, Griffin ell said this is what was meant by the Brown decision.
He said when all of you other twelve districts get to where this district is
you will have desegregated your system.
(end of tape Side #3)
We called a press conference and told them, we brought newspapers back from Houston.
We went on and had a good Christmas vacation and lo and behold we were sitting here
minding our own business and working like hell on these schools, planning, and
about the 20th of January, somewhere along in there, much to our surprise we
found out that the NAACP through the defense fund had appealed to the Supreme
Court, our case. The Supreme Court, much to our amazement, had upheld. The
Supreme Court said, look if you are so damn great and you can do all this stuff
in September, why can't you do it in February?"
Jean: You had planned to do all of this the next year?
Dr. T.: "Everything we presented was predicated on September of 1970. A semester
away. They said, it sounds great. Do it right now. We called our administrators
together and the board and on January 29th we closed the schools in Alachua
County, this was in 1970, and Februa y 7 we reopened the schools. We had moved
almost 400 teachers, we had moved several thousand child en, we had closed schools,
we had opened schools that didn't even exist yet. We converted Mebane from a
K-12 to a 5-8. We closed Lincoln, 1300 kids. GHS already had 2200 kids in it,
90 % white. We immediately took them another 1,000 solid black kids. We gave
them 3200 kids overnight, we put them on double sessions, we went from 7-12 with
12th grade, we went from 12-5 with llth grade and 10th grade. The only way you
could juggle shifts was with a unique schedule problem.
We took Westwood school, grades 7,8,9 and went from 7 in the morning to 12.
Then they cleaned out. Then we took the Buchholz student body that had already
been identified and zoned. They were also grades 7,8,9. We were going to start
them and let them add a year each year. We started them fna they went from 12-5.
We had two complete faculties, two complete administrations two complete janitors,
I mean everything. We had two schools in one building. We did the same thing
at Bishop with Eastside. That is when I knew that nothing is impossible."
Jean: When the Supreme Court says do it you do it, huh?
Dr. T.: "We got along February to about the last of March. The kids at Gainesville
High tolerated each other. Nobody, the blacks didn't want to be there, the
whites didn't want them there. Then we had our first riot over there. Personally
I think it was something you just almost had to do. I think the kids felt like
it was kind of expected of them, it was happening all over the nation. Everytime
we would have a riot it was a little less, but it was interesting times.
Then of course the following year Buchholz and Eastside still were not ready
in September but we were able to get into them about the middle or last of
October. Lincoln remained closed until we came up with the middle school.
Jean" That is all I am going to take of your time today. I may need you later. It
is 10 of six and you have to get home before you have someone coming for you
shortly. Thanks, etc.
( Tommy continued on with a story about a mob of blacks descending on the school
board building and coming in andrunning through the building. He faced them
alone because the board and Superintendent were out of town. I am hazy on the
details, but the general gist of aimless undirected anger was there. Black
students felt deprived and pushed but had no idea how, who or what to direct
all this against. As Tommy said, interesting times.)