Picayune school district prepares for new statewide regulations
Superintendent Dean Shaw outlined some of the district’s goals for this school year, which include increasing student attendance, graduation rates and test scores.
Increasing test scores covered not only ACT tests, but also those geared towards math and science. Shaw said he and the other administrators are working towards increasing math and science scores by an average of two percent.
Changes have been made to the way graduation rates are counted by the state. Shaw told the board that GEDs will no longer count towards a graduation rate as they have in the past.
Additionally, students must graduate within four years of entering high school in order for it to count.
However, if the student transfers to another school within Mississippi Picayune’s district will receive partial credit. But, if the student moves to home school or a school in another state then that graduation will no be penalized.
To increase student attendance the district is implementing a number of rewards for students who show up for every class, such as the ability to wear hats, dress freely or receive a treat on Fridays, District Curriculum Director Vera Beech said.
Increasing ACT scores will be tough, Shaw said. The problem is that starting this year juniors will be required to take the test. To overcome that hurdle the high school has plans to prepare those students for the test.
Board member Frank Feeley commended the administration for setting such high goals, but foresees many hurdles.
“How do you get kids to come to school?” Feeley said. “It starts at home.”
The district approved a motion for a budget amendment for the month of September. Finance Director Lisa Penton said the increase was for an additional $11,000 to the district’s general operating expense. She did not have specific details on hand at Tuesday’s meeting.
The district is dealing with an increase in electrical rates under Mississippi Power. Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said the power company increased their rates by 18 percent recently. However, that increase was expected and budgeted.
The district was approved for a $15,000 Food Service Equipment grant that will pay to install a convection oven, a two door refrigerator and a heating unit for the serving line at Nicholson Elementary. Shaw said a similar grant for Roseland Park was not approved.
Last year’s district maintenance fund balance experienced an increase. Penton said the increase was about $400,000, which made her feel good considering the district approved a .75 cent an hour raise for maintenance staff last year.
The fund balance in the food service department also saw an increase, in spite of providing free meals to all elementary students as part of a grant. Penton said the increase was about $130,000.
After review of the funds Feeley requested the administration provide financial information to the board days ahead of a meeting, instead of 10 minutes before. He and board member Lori Blackmer agree that 10 minutes before the meeting is not enough time to review the information before making a decision. Shaw and Penton said they would work harder to provide the information ahead of time and hold workshops with the board prior to meetings if they choose to.
The next board meeting will be Nov. 11, at noon