Picayune School District to receive two MSBA awards

Published 7:00 am Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Picayune School District will receive two awards at a banquet next month, Board of Trustees member Frank Ford announced during Tuesday’s meeting.
Ford said there are 148 districts in the state, and Picayune’s was selected as one of two by the Mississippi School Boards Association to receive the organization’s Lighthouse School Leader Torch Award and one of 27 to receive MSBA’s Lighthouse School Leader Lantern Award.
In order to be selected for the Torch Award, the district must have a letter grade of C or higher, have no school rated below a C, have at least one school rated a B or higher and have 90 percent of their student base receiving free or reduced lunch.
In order to receive the Lantern Award, the district must be rated a B or higher, and have no school rated below a C.
Ford said he would like to recognize the district’s teachers and administration because they are the driving force behind the awards.
Superintendent Dean Shaw said these awards are a reflection of the dedication, commitment and hard work by the district’s staff to elevate student achievement.
In other business, the Board heard a presentation from Nicholson Elementary Principal Patrick Rutherford about successes in the implementation of a new Title VI tutoring program. Rutherford said participation in the state funded program allowed the school to hire retired schoolteachers to reduce tutoring classes from eight students to four.
Also, the iReady program has provided a way to diagnose students individual needs, allowing the staff to print worksheets for students without Internet access to take home. Students with access to home Internet can complete the same worksheet online.
For the past few years, a professional development company has been assessing staff and providing reports about their findings. During Tuesday’s meeting, Millennium Education Systems Owner Perrin Lowery gave the Board a general overview of what he and his staff have noticed about the school district.
He began by complimenting the Board about the professionalism of the district’s staff.
Typically, teachers employ the least effective methods in the classroom and 46 percent of teachers nationwide are stressed. But that’s not what Perrin said he found in Picayune. He found that the teachers in this district are willing to work hard for their students.
Curriculum and Testing Director Mary Williams said the company has been providing reports after each teacher assessment, all of which are read by administrators. Williams said those reports help the administration understand and see the growth taking place.
Shaw and Athletic Director Walt Esslinger went over the district’s goals for the year, which include increasing the average daily attendance, providing a mastery prep program for the ACT test, providing athletic and other extra curricular programs for students to participate in and providing a safe, orderly and healthy campus. Shaw said the school district currently has a staff of nurses and recently hired an athletic trainer for the athletic program.
Esslinger said the district currently offers almost every sport recognized by the Mississippi Athletic Association and a number of clubs and organizations for students to be involved. Sports and clubs offered are based on student interest.
Online registration for students has been successful. So much so that Shaw said he hopes 100 percent of parents will begin to use it.
As for attendance, Shaw said the goal is to increase it to 94 percent. Last year the average daily attendance was 93.64 percent.
Financially, the district is mandated by the state to have seven percent funding on-hand, the Board increased that minimum to 8 percent recently. District Finance Director Lisa Persick said the district currently has 16 percent on hand, and expects that number to increase as the year goes on.
The next Board meeting will be February 14 at noon.

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