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School Superintendents Want Legislative Support to Overcome Financial and Academic Challenges

By Rhonda Miller | Published 14 Jul 2011 10:34pm | comments
Sam Bounds is executive director of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents

Nine hundred educators at the convention of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents face funding and academic challenges.  As the week-long conference wraps up in Biloxi, MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports many superintendents say despite obstacles, they see progress.

Cuts in state funding are forcing school districts to trim programs and lay off teachers. Even so, Tishomingo County Superintendent Malcolm Kuykendall says his district compensates by shifting staff to needed, and sometimes creative, roles. For example, they have academic coaches for students who need extra help, and Kuykendall says it’s working.

"We have the rigorous curriculum that was put in two or three years ago that school districts are  having to comply with and our schools are really improving and showing great progress," Kuykendall said. "We’re also trying to keep our pupil ratios to where it’s a good number because our teachers have more stress on them than ever."

Being a small district can have advantages, like Benoit with 287 students in one building for Pre-K through 12. Superintendent Beverly Culley says every student is known and every student counts.

“We insure that we are teaching our children the rigor," Culley said. "So if they’re getting a good foundation, we’re not going to have a difficult time implementing the curriculum to them. Also, for the students who are not in the earlier grades, we provide remediation for them."

In North Panola, Bob King has been conservator since the state took over the district to get it on track. King says they’ve already cut teachers.

"We’ve cut almost to the bare bones," King said. "We’re fixing to start having to impact student services if we continue to have to make cuts."

King echoes the thoughts of many superintendents. They hope the economy turns around and legislators vote for better funding for education.

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Sam Bounds is executive director of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents


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