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Southern School Board Members Tackle Education Challenges at Gulf Coast Conference

By Rhonda Miller | Published 24 Jul 2012 09:21pm | comments
Anne Bryant is Executive Director of the National School Boards Association

School board members from 12 southern states are in Biloxi this week tackling issues ranging from dropouts to shrinking budgets.  MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports.

In the crowd of 700 at the regional conference of the National Association of School Boards, Mike Dabney represents the Marked Tree school district in the Arkansas Delta.

"We have 70 percent free and reduced lunch. We are a high poverty area. Which speaks even more volumes about these grades."

These grades he is so proud of show the number of students proficient in algebra and geometry has increased about 15 to 20 percent in the past year. And 7th grade literacy has increased by 33 percent. Dabney says there’s an old-fashioned reason for the success.

"It’s a small town, everybody knows everybody and the teachers love and are for these kids."

In the Mississippi Delta, Mound Bayou School Board member Glen Scott says lots of technology and Saturday tutoring has brought their graduation rate to 93 percent.

"We challenge our kids to understand, don’t wait for people to give you things, take what you have  and put it to use and make the best of it and go on."

In Louisiana, the Assumption Parish School District has new technology that sends a red flag at the first warning sign a student may drop out.  Superintendent Tibby Martinez says there’s less chance for students to fall through the cracks - and the graduation rate has increased 16 percent in two years.

"Just the students knowing that you care about them , why the grades have gone down, why not attending school, having conversations, knowing that somebody cares about them and that motivates the students."

Before they wrap up their meeting Thursday, school board members will also examine legal issues, disaster planning and leadership.

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Anne Bryant is Executive Director of the National School Boards Association


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