English II to return to being a semester class

Published 5:35 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2007

High school Co-Principals Kent Kirkland and Christie Pinero made three requests of the school board for the Picayune Municipal Separate School District last and all were granted.

Two of the requests had to do with the English department at Picayune Memorial High School. Chief among those requests is that English II will return to being a semester class. PMHS operates primarily on a four-by-four schedule in which students receive a year’s worth instruction in a subject within a single semester by having longer classes. The school has four periods a day instead of the six or seven periods in some other high schools and on which PMHS operated several years ago. The high schools at all three districts in the county several years ago opted for a four-by-four schedule. Some math classes, particularly Algebra I, are still year-long classes.

The two principals said data they have gathered from the years that the high school operated English II as a semester class and the 2006 school year, the first year the school scheduled English II as a year-long class, showed no statistical difference in how students fared in English II. By going back to the four-by-four schedule with English II, the school will be able to have smaller class sizes for both English I and English II, be able to schedule remedial classes for students needing them and be able to schedule more oral communication and theater classes.

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Students seeking honors English classes will have to go through an application process, but all of those who meet the criteria for the classes will be allowed to take them, under the changes adopted by the school board. Requirements for the honors courses include an average of at least 85 in English, being on grade level as determined by the TABE test taken at the end of the eighth grade, a proficient or advanced MCT score and a passing grade in the English II subject area test for those seeking to take honors English III.

A letter accompanying the application warns students and parents that there will be more required reading and writing in the course than in non-honors English courses.

Pinero said Wednesday morning that some English teachers might want students coming into the honors English II and honors English III to take the TABE to determine their reading level since the honors course requires a more, and more difficult, reading than the regular course. However, she said all students who meet the criteria will be allowed in the courses, though they and their parents will need to fully understand the requirements.

The third request will bring PMHS in line with most other high schools in the area in determining students’ grade point averages. Now, extra curricular activities such as sports, physical education, journalism, band and other fine arts, cheerleading, ROTC, debate and drivers’ education/safety won’t count in determining a student’s GPA.

Whitney Dodd, daughter of school board member Ginny Dodd, as part of her senior project came before the board to promote DASH, an effort to increase the number of organ donors. In her presentation, she pointed out that 1,200 Mississippians need transplants each year.

The board also approved adding $6,111 of district money to $9,000 that had been donated by sports booster clubs to equip the district’s field house following renovations to the building, and approved a bid of $8,622 to install sprinklers at the soccer field.

The board also approved a grant to provide defibrillators for the school district.

In other matters, the board:

— Approved personnel matters.

— Approved the consent items, including the amended budget and financial statement, payroll certification, claims dockets, obsolete items, sole source purchases and donations to the district’s Robotics programs from CCS Industrial sales, Truth Olive, Godfather’s Pizza and BLAST Inc.

— Approved finance, including 16th section matters, a bid on an obsolete bus and the final payment to Rowell Roofing for roofing at South Side Upper Elementary.

— Approved the GFWC-MFWC challenge grant application and the National Endowment for the Humanities grant for Printing America grant, both for Nicholson Elementary.

— Approved the amendment to the IDEIA budget.

— Approved allowing Pearl River County School District to purchase an additional slot for behavior modification.

— Tabled a request by Resurrection Life to use Nicholson Elementary until details of security and cleanup could be worked out.

— Approved waiving fee for the auditorium for the Junior Miss pageant.

— Approved looking into purchasing and getting an appraisal on a piece of property for sale next to Roseland Park Elementary.

— Went into executive session on discipline matters, personnel matters and student matters.