Headlines Cont. – 4/28/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 28, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – April 28, 2006


SP Parents & Teachers of the Year
     Honored as parents of the year by the South Panola School District at a Thursday, April 27 reception were (left to right) Kathy Bone, Pope School; Randy Boren, South Panola High; Mona Pittman, Batesville Middle;
Michelle Campbell Mundroff
, Batesville Intermediate; and Jana Burnham, Batesville Elementary. Pittman was honored as district parent of the year.
     Honored as teachers of the year by the South Panola School District at a reception yesterday were (left to right) Jennifer Russell Wilkie, Pope School;
Farrie Ware Parker
, South Panola High;
Shelley Province
, Batesville Junior High; Harriet B. Beall, Batesville Middle; Mary Beth Garner, Batesville Intermediate; and Shana Robison, Batesville Elementary. Robison was also named District Teacher of the Year. The reception was held in the cafeteria at Batesville Intermediate and hosted by First Security Bank.
Firefighters serious in door-to-door inspections of smoke alarms
By John Howell Sr.

Batesville firefighters continued their canvas of homes in east Batesville this week, going door-to-door offering new fire alarms or new fire alarm batteries to residents.

Firefighters are in the last year of a three-year program during which they are attempting to offer fire alarms and fire prevention information at every residence in the city.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

"If you’ve got a safe community, it builds your community up; that goes back to code enforcement and everything," shift leader James "Cowboy" Snyder said as he drove through the city Wednesday evening.

Snyder and firefighter Travis Inman travel in a fire department vehicle from 6 p.m. until dark, distributing alarms, batteries and advice. Batesville residents who answer a knock announcing their visit will find the two men standing at the door, one holding a large red bag containing their wares.

If the home or apartment already has smoke detectors, the firemen check their placement within the structure and check the batteries. They will relocate existing smoke alarms to an optimum detection site if needed. They will also replace batteries if needed.

If there are no smoke detectors in the structure, or if more are needed, the firemen will install them.

In 2004, after determining that unattended cooking was the single greatest cause of the residential fire alarms, the Batesville Fire Department began their alarm saturation program with grants from State Farm Insurance, Wal-Mart and Energizer Batteries, BFD Fire and Life Safety Officer Rip Copeland said.

The 2004 alarm placement effort targeted west Batesville, where more of the fires had occurred. That spring, firemen visited 1,813 residences, installed 319 new alarms and replaced 192 batteries.

Last year, firemen targeted the middle section of Batesville, visiting 750 residences, installing 60 alarms and replacing 35 batteries.

This year, after they have made stops at every residence in east Batesville, firemen will have covered the entire city offering their fire prevention equipment and expertise. They will also send notices by mail to all those homes they visited in 2004 and 2005, reminding occupants to change their smoke detector batteries and offering to have a firefighter come and change the battery for the resident.

Snyder emphasized that the offer to have a firefighter come and change the battery was not intended only for the elderly or those with disabilities.

"Anybody can call and we’ll come to anybody’s house," he said. "Our main concern is to keep our community safe.

"Alarms give early warning to people and lets us get there with a quicker response time," Snyder continued.

"Smoke alarms are especially valuable when you’re asleep," he added.

A fire department spokesman said this year’s canvas of the targeted area is about one-third complete. People who are not at home when the firefighters visit will find a printed door hanger telling them about the visit and providing a phone number to allow them to schedule a return.

Anyone, whether they are in this year’s targeted area or not, can call the fire department at 563-4703 to schedule a visit to have smoke alarms installed, batteries replaced or learn other home fire prevention information.

And when they finish with this year’s home visits?

"We’ll start over again next year in the area we visited the first year," Snyder said.

See related photo on page A7.

Barksdale to supply NP reading teacher
By Jason C. Mattox

Como Elementary School will have a full-time reading teacher beginning next year – provided by the Barksdale Reading Institute at no cost to the North Panola School District.

The school board approved the plan after hearing from the private institute’s chief executive officer Claiborne Barksdale at its monthly meeting Monday night.

"The Barksdale Reading Institute has made a substantial investment in the North Panola School District," Barksdale said. "We have been working with this district in Como and Crenshaw Elementary for more than five years."

The Barksdale Reading Institute (BRI) was established in January 2000 with a $100-million endowment from former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale and his wife, Sally.

The institute formed partnerships among the Mississippi State Department of Education, Mississippi public schools, and the state’s public universities to implement systemic reform in the teaching of reading to children.

Barksdale explained that most of the work of the BRI is to focus on staff development.

"We work with the teachers from kindergarten through third grade so they know how to effectively teach a child how to read," he said. "So far, the way we have done things has been working.

"The test scores have improved, and we have most children reading at grade level," Barksdale added. "That’s a big step, but we want to see more proof of success."

Cindy Hale, a retired teacher from the Senatobia School District who has been working with Como Elementary in the area of staff development, will return to the classroom as Como Elementary’s reading teacher for kindergarten and first grade.

"I spent 25 years teaching reading at Senatobia Elementary School," Hale said. "I am excited about the chance to get back into a classroom and work with children."

Hale even joked to trustees that if they wanted a reference, they need look no further than their own superintendent Glendora Dugger.

"Mrs. Dugger was my principal at Senatobia Elementary for a number of years," she said. "She can tell you what I am capable of in the classroom."

In addition to Hale, current tutor Becky Floyd and a qualified teacher’s assistant will be in the classroom.

"The significant benefit to this is smaller classes and more focus strictly on reading instruction," Barksdale said.

Another change coming will include the introduction of the Accelerated Reader program in grades K-3.

"We will provide the software, as well as non-fiction books for the students," Barksdale said. "We want to see this program continue to succeed and reach new levels."

Barksdale said he was before the board to make sure the BRI had the support of the district.

"If those three in the classroom are alone in this, it will not work," he said. "Everyone in the school and the district needs to be on the same page to make this work."

Board members voted unanimously to enter into a new contract with the Barksdale Reading Institute.

Attendance officer seeks timely excuses
By Jason C. Mattox

At the urging of the attendance officer, the North Panola School District may soon restrict the number of days an excuse can be turned in for absence.

Charles Blakely appeared before the North Panola School District Board of Trustees asking them to consider adopting a policy that would set a number of days for a student to turn in an absence excuse.

"A lot of other school districts already have a policy in place when it comes to this sort of thing," Blakely said. "I think it would be a big help to us."

Blakely said the reason he wants the district to adopt such a policy stems for his appearances in youth court.

"We have students that will go to youth court for missing days and having no excuse," he said. "Then when they get to court, they have an excuse.

"It might be several months later, but they suddenly have an excuse," Blakely added. "A policy like this would keep that from happening to us in court again."

Board president Cecil Dowden instructed Blakely to draft a proposed policy for the board to examine. No action was taken.

In other board business
The calendar and teacher salary schedule for the 2006-07 school year was adopted.
M & P Lawn Care was awarded the bid for mowing the Como campus at $299 per cut; True Cut Lawn & Grounds was selected for the Crenshaw Elementary campus at $70 per cut.
The resignations of Lisa E. Taylor from Como Elementary, Jimmy Breazeale of NP Alternative School and Evelyn R. Cummings of Como Middle School were accepted.
The board scheduled its next meeting for May 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the Crenshaw Elementary Cafeteria.




Copyright 2005-2006 by The Panolian, Inc..  All rights reserved
Copyright 2001-2004 by Batesville Newspapers, LLC.  All rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission  is prohibited.