Many factors not reflected in state accountability

Published 7:00 am Thursday, May 15, 2014

BOARD PRESENTATION: Picayune Memorial High Assistant Principal Pat Smith gives a presentation to the school’s board of trustees. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

BOARD PRESENTATION: Picayune Memorial High Assistant Principal Pat Smith gives a presentation to the school’s board of trustees.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

Picayune Memorial High School is offering students classes and opportunities that the state’s accountability model doesn’t reflect.

The information was shared with the Picayune Separate Municipal School District’s board of trustees during Tuesday’s evening meeting.

One of the things Picayune Memorial High Assistant Principal Pat Smith shared was that 28 students earned high scores on this year’s ACT. Of that total, 13 earned a score between 29 to 34 and 15 students earned a score of 26 to 28.

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The high school also offers a dual enrollment program that allows students to potentially earn 12 college credit hours before they graduate, Smith said. Currently 56 students are enrolled in that program and it is growing each year. Smith said 138 students have signed up for the dual enrollment program for the next school year.

Classes offered in the dual enrollment program include Western Civilization I and II, College Algebra and Speech. Smith said in the past the school offered dual enrollment English classes but that teacher retired, leaving a vacancy the district would like to fill, Smith said.

“These are things that are preparing students not only for college, but for the work force as well,” Smith said.

In December, 21 students graduated from the high school, of which about 75 percent went straight into college, Smith said.

Smith said she shared this information with the board because the achievements are not recognized by the state’s accountability model at present, Smith said.

Memorial High Assistant Principal Kristi Mitchell told the board that while she was attending a school sporting event she heard from a parent with children attending a Gulf Coast 6-A school who said their child’s school doesn’t offer a dual enrollment program. Picayune is classified as 5-A.

Students have also expressed interest in the advanced level classes. Smith said 77 students have registered for next year’s Calculus class.

On a separate topic, the board discussed being reimbursed for recycling old computers.

District Finance Director Lisa Penton told the board that she was offered a contract that would pay the district $2 per computer recycled. While the district is already recycling their old computers, they are not generating any revenue from the effort.

To ensure the district had their bases covered, they contacted the Attorney General’s office for an opinion on receiving revenue for recycling the outdated electronics. Penton said the A.G.’s office advised them to only enter into a contract for three years, since that is the term of a board member, and not to collect more than $50,000 worth of revenue.

“I don’t think we will ever exceed $50,000 in revenue,” Penton said.

The fresh fruit and vegetable program at South Side and Nicholson Elementary schools is so popular that the district is applying to have the program at every school, said Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell. The program provides children at participating schools with healthy snacks three times a week that include fresh fruit and vegetables. Harrell said he does not expect every school to be approved for the federal funding to participate. This was the first year the district had two schools participating.

The next school board meeting is set for May 27, at noon.