Poplarville School Board hear update on middle school

Published 7:00 am Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Poplarville School Board of Trustees discussed what priorities to bring to the Legislature this year, including how school funding is provided and how districts pay for goods and services.

The Board will have to complete the Mississippi School Board Association 2021 School Board Legislative Survey. Superintendent Konya Miller told the Board she believes one of the priorities should be addressing the fact that funding is based on average daily attendance, but with COVID-19 more students may be absent through no fault of their own. She believes one priority should be basing funding on how many students a district serves instead of average daily attendance.

CFO Samantha Sandifer and Miller also discussed the fact that the state constitution does not allow districts to prepay for goods and services they have not received, but many software services or conferences require prepayment. Sandifer said there is a need for legislation to clearly address the issue.

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In a separate matter, the Board listened to an update about the Middle School of Poplarville. Principal Heidi Dillon was required to give the update as part of the ATSI program.

Teachers at the school are pushing for 65 percent growth in reading and 80 percent growth in math.

Total enrollment at the school is 438 students. At the time the report was gathered 361 were traditional students and 77 were virtual. However, all but 28 of the virtual students have since returned to in-person learning, said Dillon.

The school’s average daily attendance was a little lower than normal at 95 percent, which Dillon attributed to some of the virtual students struggling with attendance. Instances that required disciplinary action have been down in the current school year, said Dillon, with only nine reported. She believes keeping students in one classroom and rotating teachers keeps some of the “middle school messiness” down that would normally happen during classroom transitions.

The money the school has been allocated as part of ATSI is being spent primarily on salaries for two tutors.