Picayune School Board hears about gifted program

Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 16, 2018

The successes of Picayune School District’s gifted program were presented to the Board of Trustees during Tuesday’s meeting and the Board made a motion to hire a new head basketball coach for the varsity team.

Children are screened for a likelihood of being eligible for the gifted program at the end of first grade, said gifted teacher Susan Spiers during the presentation. The screening process involves a non-verbal test. Once a child is identified as potentially being eligible for the gifted program through the non-verbal test, they are then given an IQ test by a psychometrist. Spiers said that children need to have an IQ of 120 or more to be eligible for the program. The average IQ is between 90 to 110, she said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Contrary to popular belief, most students in the gifted program do not have straight “As” on their report cards, and some deal with behavior issues.

There are currently 139 students in the program, spread throughout grades 4 through 6 in all four elementary campuses within the District.

The children are engaged in a more rigorous curriculum that focuses on six competencies, including thinking skills, creativity, informational literacy, success skills, affection skills and communication skills.

Through the development of those skills, the students are given class assignments that may entail using a real life situation as a background for instruction or through field trips to museums in Jackson and local venues such as the Crosby Arboretum. 

In a separate matter, the Board approved a motion to hire a new head coach for the varsity basketball team. Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said the new coach is Eric Vianney. Superintendent Dean Shaw said that Vianney has been the assistant coach for the team for the past two years and is a 2004 graduate of Picayune Memorial High School who received a basketball scholarship to Illinois State where he played for a year before transferring to Tulane where he played basketball for three years.

During discussion of bus turnaround requests, District IV Supervisor Farron Moeller asked for permission to speak, but was denied because he was not on the agenda.

Moeller said in a phone interview with the Item on Wednesday that his intention was to speak to the Board about the need for bus turnarounds on Hickory Nut Road and Lazy Oak Lane, which are located off of Highway 43 North.

Moeller said that for years prior the bus picked up kids in front of their homes along those roads, but now children are required to walk to the intersection of Highway 43 North to be picked up by buses, prompting residents within his district to request that he speak to the School Board of Trustees.  According to Maps, the roads vary from 1.4 miles to a mile in length.

Moeller believes the change was made due to a recent mandate by the Board of Supervisors for school districts to provide the cost of materials, such as rocks, to maintain those roads.

Moeller said he called Shaw to request to be put on the agenda a week ago, but never heard back. When he didn’t receive a response, he chose to attend School Board meeting at the request of his constituents.

Harrell said that Moeller was not allowed to speak during Tuesday’s meeting because he was not on the agenda and added that the bus turnarounds on the agenda were approved, but they did not include Lazy Oak Lane or Hickory Nut Road.  Harrell said that the District will continue to request turnarounds when they are needed, but there are no plans to provide monetarily for the materials needed in their maintenance.