Board discusses two new programs

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 30, 2016

Board of Trustees members for the Picayune Separate Municipal School District discussed the formation of a supper program for students participating in after school functions and is working with the state on implementation of a program that will allow former students who dropped out to acquire their diploma.
Superintendent Dean Shaw presented a new supper program to the Board, which would provide students participating in after-school programs with a meal. It would also be available to any student.
Shaw said the program would be beneficial to students in any after school program, including those practicing for sport related activities, such as cheerleaders, band members, dance team members and those in the NJROTC program.
Food would be served at the Picayune Memorial High School cafeteria. It will be paid for under the USDA foodservice program, and therefore be free of charge to the students.
Shaw said he expects to see the highest participation during the fall, about 500 students per day, when there are several activities going on at once.
While all of the details have not been worked out, Athletic Director Walt Esslinger said that, tentatively, the program will operate between the hours of 4 to 6:30 p.m. Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said overtime for cafeteria workers has already been budgeted.
The Board approved implementation of the new feeding program. In July, teachers will have the option to participate in some summer planning, focusing on math instruction. Federal Programs Director and Curriculum Director Mary Williams said the program hopes to bring up the declining math scores for elementary students in the district. The units developed will be presented to all elementary principals in the district to ensure uniformity, Williams said.
Speech teachers are hard to find in the current employment climate. Special Education Director Diane Wise said the district needs three speech therapists, but the demand is so high they are having a hard time finding people to employ in that capacity.
Currently, the University of Southern Mississippi has accepted three people to their speech program. It is unclear why only three people were accepted to the program. As a result, the Board was asked to approve entering into an agreement with Elisha’s Speech and Language Services. The Board approved the agreement.
The district is also working to establish a new method for students who previously dropped out to obtain their diploma. Harrell said the law that established the program allows those students to acquire their diploma by completing the exact same requirements outlined for their graduating class.
Harrell said specifics about the program are still being worked out at the state level, such content to be included in the alternate state tests, but could say there is no time limit on when a previous student could acquire their diploma. The diploma would be issued by the Mississippi school from which the former student had dropped out.
The next Board meeting will be July 12 at 5:30 p.m.

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