Picayune School Board motions for raises to district administration
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Performances by two students kicked off Tuesday’s Picayune School District Board of Trustees meeting in which the district’s administrators received a raise, in spite of a vote by the Board against such a raise during last year’s budget workshops.
One performance was a musical piece by Miriam Howell and the second was a spoken word performance by Kamryn Clymer.
Howell showed off her vocal skills to the Board by performing a solo song with keyboard accompaniment.
Clymer, who was recently named as Pearl River County’s Distinguished Young Woman, shared the spoken word portion of her performance during the competition. It was a spoken word piece that reflected her observations while ministering to people living in a poor part of Africa. The story focused on how no matter how poor someone is, they can still find happiness. She came to this realization while watching a little girl shower in a gutter during a rain event, since the family did not have access to a shower, or hot water.
Clymer ended the piece with her outlook on life as being happy, “…because Jesus walked out of that tomb.”
Betty Jo Peterson, director of bus routing, gave the Board an update about her department. She said that the district utilizes 40 buses daily, with 10 other buses on reserve in case one of the main buses breaks down. There are a total of 44 bus drivers, six aids and two mechanics that work to ensure the children arrive at school safety. Each day the main buses travel 288 miles to get that job done. And now, bus drivers do an inspection of the bus twice a day prior to picking up the students. Those inspections include checking the oil, fluid levels, tire pressure and tread wear and that safety belts work in those equipped.
In another matter, the Board approved a motion to approve pay raises to district administrators. Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said the raise will entail an additional $2,000 annually to 19 administrators, covering positions that include the superintendent, assistant superintendent, principals, assistant principals, center for alternative education director and the special education director for example.
During budget hearings held in June of last year, the Board denied a motion to provide raises to the administrators.
The District also received a special award. Curriculum Director Mary Williams said the Program of Research and Evaluation of Public Schools, an organization established in 1976 to provide improvements to the Mississippi education system, awarded two schools within the district Value Added Awards. Williams said that South Side Lower Elementary was given the award for “growth in reading of 85.2” and West Side Elementary for “a growth in math of 79.3.”
A reception for the winners is set for Feb. 28 in Jackson.
Toward the end of the meeting, Early Head Start Director Dr. Pamela Thomas showed the Board a five minute video outlining the importance of early childhood education, especially in households below the poverty line.
EHS Curriculum Director Debra Wale said that children younger than 3-years-old who are living in poverty have less vocabulary than their more affluent counterparts. Research has also shown that brain activity in similar households is less, Wale said. According to information presented during the meeting, economically advantaged children in that age range have a vocabulary of about 1,000 words, while economically disadvantaged children know 500 words.
The next Board meeting will be held March 14 at 5:30 p.m.