NP ‘Deficiencies’ 2/22/13

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 22, 2013

Working in North Panola High School’s new science lab are (from left) Alysia Compos, Kierra Pride, science teacher Hanna Olivier and Tonicia McGlothian. The room is outfitted with all new equipment, including six new lab tables built with deep sinks and supplied with gas and water for use in experiments. The Panolian photo by Rita Howell

Last of ‘deficiencies’ corrected at NP

By Billy Davis

North Panola’s conservator announced Tuesday the school district has corrected the remainder of 36 deficiencies that affected its accreditation, and helped trigger a state takeover, five years ago.

“That sets the stage for the district to move out of conservatorship,” said Robert King, speaking at a school district meeting in the North Panola High library.

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King said he reported the final fixes to the Mississippi Board of Education last week. 

North Panola is also under state control because of poor student achievement, and King further explained that the latest test scores will also determine the school district’s immediate future.

The Panolian reported last fall that North Panola is on “Academic Watch,” but student test scores show the district is meeting “growth,” or showing improvement year after year.

Two of four schools in the district dropped to Level 1 status after the 2007 school year, a second trigger for a state takeover.

The district will receive test results from the current school year during the summer, King said Tuesday.
Former Mississippi Superintendent of Education Hank Bounds recommended the state takeover in March 2008 and then-Gov. Haley Barbour approved the action a month later.

A state takeover at North Panola was set in motion in 2007 when the Miss. Department of Education conducted a district-wide audit. The state agency’s Office of Accreditation found that North Panola was non-compliant with 33 of 37 standards that maintain its accreditation.

Complaints from parents and school staff prompted the “leadership” audit of the district, a state official said at the time.

North Panola was immediately downgraded from “accredited” status to “advised,” and its accreditation was eventually withdrawn when the deficiencies lingered for ten months through 2007 into 2008.

A corrective plan authored by then-Superintendent Lucinda Carter failed to satisfy Bounds and other state officials, and it appeared North Panola was moving for its second takeover by the State of Mississippi.

The first takeover, in 1996, was prompted due to financial problems.

After the school district meeting adjourned, King told a reporter that three final deficiencies were corrected in the school district: minimum library standards are in place; an adequate number of student textbooks are being circulated; and a well-equipped science lab is operating at the high school. 

A newly renovated science lab at North Panola High satisfied that deficiency, King said, and the district can show it has an “adequate supply” of textbooks to meet the second deficiency, he said.

King did not elaborate about what changes were made in school libraries but told The Panolian improvements were made across the school district.

Regarding student test scores, King recalled that North Panola missed a “Successful” label by only a single digit, 132 instead of 133, based on student test scores from 2011.

King credited the improved student achievement on hiring teachers who care about the future of their students.

For North Panola to steadily improve, the school district “needs to find people who care about children and who want to go beyond where we are at the present time,” King said.