By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
An assembly was held at The Link in First Baptist Church on Wednesday, October 10th, to discuss ways the business community could back Picayune School District and help it achieve a higher grade ranking in the Miss. School District Accountability Ranking.
The group was comprised of business people, pastors and community leaders, moderated by businessman Max Huey and Mayor Ed Pinero, opened in prayer. Attendees were then requested to strive for solution based comments.
Huey said, “Thank you for being here and showing an interest in our public school system. We are not here to criticize anyone or any group but to have discussions and ideas as to how we can assist with positive changes in our public schools.
“Important issues for economic growth are: Public education, health care and an opportunity for spiritual growth. We have all three (here in Picayune).
“However, our topic for today is public education. Public education is a partnership between:1.Schools, 2. Parents and 3. Community. The challenge is large and very complex. As a business community, we need to come forward and carry our part of the partnership.”
Huey explained the responsibilities for everyone beginning with the school board and ending with individual community members to the group.
He said that according to the Miss. School Board Website, responsibilities of our school board are: Self-management and ethics, planning and goal setting, performance monitoring and community engagement. The Picayune District School Board currently has two elected and three appointed members.
Again, based on information from Miss. School Board Website, the school board selects the CEO or superintendent and works harmoniously and honestly with that person. It also evaluates the job performance of that person. Management of a school system is the domain of the superintendent. The school governance function is to ensure there are clearly defined, desired end results in place for the major areas under management and that they are monitored to ensure that the end results are being achieved. School system governance is the responsibility of the school board.
Huey stated that Communication with city goals and school board goals should be the same; with open dialogue.
“In reviewing the Miss. School District Ranking Number of Schools in Miss., we would like to be “A” or “B” in accountability rankings. We are currently a “C” in district rankings. However, our high school was given a “D” ranking which is academic watch. Our graduation rate is 79.1 percent over five years. It is higher than numerous “B” rated schools. Graduation rates were not allowed to be counted in this year’s performance label. If it had been allowed, Picayune may have been moved up to a “B” rating,” said Huey.
Among issues discussed were student/teacher ratio; ways to support administration in goals, the need to understand the administration’s goals and ways to raise morale throughout the district.
Mayor Pinero told the group, “From an economic development perspective, a lot of really good things are right around the corner and these companies are looking at the schools. We can acknowledge (the recent grade ranking) and let them know that we have a group of strong business and community leaders who are behind the schools and committed to change for the better.”
Huey concluded by saying, “Any criticism rests on us as a business community for our non-involvement and not on the school board or school administration. I feel that our Picayune District is very close to moving up to that “B” rating and with positive community support, it can happen very soon.”