Picayune School Board remembers Brent Harrell

Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 14, 2019

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Picayune School District’s Board of Trustees, Superintendent Dean Shaw and attorney Jim Keith took a moment to remember the late Brent Harrell, who passed away on Monday. The Board also held a moment of silence in remembrance.

Harrell was the assistant superintendent for the District upon his passing, but Shaw said Harrell has almost 50 years of educational experience.

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“Picayune School District was blessed to have him for 48 years,” Shaw said.

Keith described Harrell as one of the most knowledgeable  and dedicated administrators he has ever worked with across the state of Mississippi in his 38 years of advising school boards on educational law.

“I don’t know of another administrator in the state who had a better grasp of issues facing districts than Brent,” Keith said.

With the loss of Harrell, the Picayune School District has a hurdle to face, Keith said.

“It’s going to be a transition…. functioning without Brent,” Keith said.

The Board also discussed the District’s gifted program, which is offered to students in the second through sixth grades who have an IQ of 120 or more, said Gifted Program Director Dr. Brannon Johnson.

There are currently 157 students enrolled in the program and they meet at least five hours a week with the gifted teacher at their respective campus. Gifted program competencies include thinking skills, creativity, informational literacy, success skills, affective skills and communication skills. Within each grade level, gifted students are tasked with appropriate objectives within each of those six competencies.

The Board also read over some of the District’s goals for the current school year, which include holding fire drills monthly and tornado drills once a semester. Red alert drills and bus evacuation drills will be held each semester. Other goals include providing a mentor to first year teachers, maintaining an average daily attendance of at least 93.44 percent, maintaining a fiscal budget that includes an eight percent fund balance, and implementing strategies to increase subject area testing in the individual academic areas of reading, language arts, math, science and subject area tests by at least two points.

The next meeting will be Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m.