By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The new interim leader of Tupelo’s public school district compared the survey results he heard on Thursday night to medicine.
David Meadows, who was named the district’s interim superintendent earlier in the day, was among about 180 people who came to the Summit Center on Thursday night to hear a presentation made by a newly formed community organization, Leaders Engaged for the Advancement of Public Schools. That presentation outlined the results of a 22-question online community survey conducted by LEAPS that drew 1,500 responses.
Although the results were not all glowing for the school district, Meadows said the data will be helpful as Tupelo’s schools move forward.
“When medicine is taken appropriately, it heals,” Meadows said. “If our community and school system need healing, whatever it takes to serve the students at the highest level, we are willing to take that medicine.”
More than 70 percent of the respondents did not believe that the district maintains appropriate discipline in the classroom, and nearly 70 percent did not believe the Apple One to One program had improved the district. Respondents also expressed concerns about the way the district prepares students for state tests and about families and teachers leaving for other districts.
Of the survey participants, 640 of them (42.7 percent) were parents. More than 28 percent were residents and more than 18 percent were active teachers.
“What stood out to me the most was the number of participants who care so deeply about Tupelo,” said LEAPS board member Lisa Hawkins.
Hawkins and LEAPS President Rob Hudson called on the community to actively participate in the schools, suggesting, for instance, that people call principals to ask how they can help students prepare for state standardized tests.
“I feel positive about the future and commitment of the LEAPS organization to support the school district,” TPSD Deputy Superintendent Diana Ezell said. “I feel hopeful that we will work together to resolve those issues that the survey brought out.”
In a statement, school board President Amy Heyer said the board looks forward to a productive partnership with LEAPS.
Hudson said LEAPS is committed to bridging the gap between the community and the district.
“If the community and school board could align themselves, it would accelerate improvement in the district,” he said.