| By Jason C. Mattox
Principals in the North Panola School District heard what the Board of Trustees and Superintendent Glendora Dugger expect in the coming year – higher test scores.
During a five-hour meeting Saturday morning, Dugger and board president Cecil Dowden looked for input from its administrators in hopes of improving the district’s performance on the Mississippi Curriculum Test (MCT).
"The purpose of today’s meeting is to make sure everything goes well," Dowden said. "We want you to know about the goals of the district and let us know about any concerns you might have."
The most recent results showed all schools but Crenshaw Elementary maintaining Level 2 status while Crenshaw remained a Level 3 school.
Board vice-president Pearl McGlothian questioned why this newspaper was present for the meeting.
"This is a work session," she said. "We were doing this to air some things out. So, why is the newspaper here?
"People might not feel comfortable talking with them here," McGlothian added.
Board members allowed the press to remain at the work session, but McGlothian vowed to find out if the press could be present before another takes place. (See related commentary, page A4.)
Following that discussion, Dugger said it was important for the administrators to know the goals of the district for the coming year.
"The major goal of this district for the coming year is to make sure we do everything we can to raise student achievement," she said.
In an effort to insure that is happening, lesson plans from teachers are monitored to make sure all the MCT points are hit early and often.
"We held our ground [on the recently released MCT scores] everywhere but the high school," Dugger said. "Everyone in the district wants to see us improve on that."
Dugger explained that the principals should move forward with staff changes if it was better for the education of the students.
"If there is a revision in the staff, they need to be highly qualified in whatever the problem area at the school," she said.
The superintendent also suggested removing extra curricular activities offered at schools that might distract students from testing.
"Those extra curricular activities need to be taken away until the test scores show some improvement," she said.
Dugger also informed principals she wanted them to be in the classrooms observing teachers more often.
"You all need to know that what they are teaching is going to help us improve our test scores," she said.
A major area stressed by both Dugger and Dowden was the retention of qualified teachers.
"Every year we have such a high turnover," Dugger said. "We need to know what the problem seems to be."
Dowden asked the principals if they had any information that might be helpful.
"I think one thing is we need to make sure our teachers are happy coming to work everyday," NPHS principal Anthony Barnes said. "We need to do whatever we can to make sure they feel comfortable in the environment.
"I know that our goal is for us to hit level five, and we are striving to hit that goal," he added. "I don’t know that we will hit it in one year, but we are going to do all we can to get there."
"Well, all of the teachers need to know that the administration is here to back them up," Dowden said. "We have some very capable people running this district and we have faith in them that we will see some improvement.
"None of us are perfect," he added. "We all make mistakes, but we all do the best we can."
Board members adjourned the meeting with no official action being taken.
Other matters briefly discussed during the work session included:
|| Discussed uniforms for the band and cheerleaders. A new set of uniforms for the cheerleaders has arrived, a second could be purchased from the athletic budget.
|| Trustees are considering requiring more than 21 Carnegie units for graduation to help cut down on early release
|| Letters will soon be sent to parents informing them of which teachers in the district have not received their "AA" endorsement to make them highly qualified teachers.
"It absolutely sickens me that we have people teaching our students that are not highly qualified," board member Marie Wilson said. "I just don’t understand why we are hiring teachers that are not highly qualified."