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Mississippi Department of Education Taking Over Another Delta School District

By Annie Gilbertson | Published 17 Jun 2011 01:20pm | comments
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The Mississippi Board of Education recommended the state take over another school district today.   The state Department of Education (MDE)  now controls seven out of the state's 152 districts.    

Lack of resources and student discipline, increased gang activity, and inactive community members influenced the poor quality of education in the Drew School District, according to a report given to the board.

Charlis Miller, who works for the district as a liaison to parents, said her biggest concern is low test scores.

"It was difficult to communicate with the parents and getting them out to do something positive to help their children,” she said.

Many of the board's concerns are basic compliance issues. Infractions like not keeping a fire extinguisher in classrooms, not basing class instruction on state standards, and not staging an emergency evacuation drill.

The list of infractions is long, but many believe the root cause is poverty and a lack of resources.

Tax revenue is low for the rural town of around 2,400. With little money, the schools had trouble making payroll, buying books and making long overdue repairs.

Paula Vanderford, Director of Accreditation, oversaw the report. She listed the deficiencies to the board yesterday.

"Many of which do not require money,” she pointed out. “It doesn't take financial resources to have school schedules to require the appropriate amount of instructional time and bus schedules to run in a timely manner."

The Governor will likely order the Mississippi Department of Education to take over the district. Overseers will then decide whether or not to move the 500 students in the district to neighboring schools in the fall. 

In recent  years, the MDE has taken over a district every 12-14 months.  Many of them spend 3-4 years in conservatorship before being allowed to return to independent operation, but given the small size of the Drew district, there is discussion about whether to close it permanently.

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