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Drew District Parents Eager for Change

By Annie Gilbertson | Published 22 Jun 2011 10:21pm | comments

The Drew School District is now the seventh district under state control.

You know you're close to Drew on Highway 49N when you pass a series of grain elevators shared by the city and the neighboring town of Ruleville. 

“You are in an area that is impoverished, I would say,” explained Tammy Strickland. “How do I explain poverty?  I probably see it different than a lot of people around here.”

Strickland moved to Drew a few years ago with her husband and five children. She and her daughter went to the library yesterday for summer reading materials. During the school year, getting a hold required reading isn't so easy.

“There’s always a problem with no textbooks,” said Strickland. “However, you want kids to come home and have parents help them with their homework. But if I don’t have the book to go back to teach them what you taught them, what do I use?”

Strickland said she is relieved the state took over, but is surprised to find out the state appointed the interim superintendent to conservator, or the person hired by state to oversee improvements.

“With my knowledge of the community, and with the trust the community has put on my shoulders, I believe it could be a good fit,” said Charles Barron, Drew’s new conservator.

While the state evaluated all administrators, Barron was named an ally.  He's a retired superintendent of a nearby district and came on as a consultant after Drew School District experienced many leadership changes.

 Barron hopes the intervention will bring fiscal stability.

Charles McClelland, Chair of the Mississippi Board of Education, presided over the board’s decision to recommend a takeover.  He says there’s no easy fix.

“They were well below what we felt they should be,” said McClelland. “There’s no magic to going in a getting things done.  There’s number of them we’ve been in for a number of years and haven’t got it fixed yet, but we started working on it.”

The board tossed around the idea of combining Drew School District with Ruleville, one it has controlled for the last couple years.  Conservator Barron said he hopes they can make the necessary changes before that happens.

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