New oversight proposed for low-rated schools

djournal-education-stock-gradBy Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Chronically failing schools would be placed in a statewide Achievement School District under legislation the House Education Committee passed Friday.

Education Chair John Moore, R-Brandon, said under existing law there are about 50 chronically poor performing schools across the state that face takeover by the state Board of Education. He said the Department of Education does not have the staff to oversee the schools.

In place of that law, the proposal passed by his committee Friday would establish the Mississippi Achievement School District that would be governed by a seven-member board. The lieutenant governor and governor each would make three appointments to the board and the superintendent of education one.

The Achievement School District Board members would hire a superintendent. The district would receive the share of state and local funds the schools would have received if they had not been removed from their existing school districts.

Under similar legislation pending in the Senate Education Committee, the Achievement District would be overseen by the state Department of Education.

Under the House proposal, a school must be an F level school in most instances for two consecutive years to be placed in the Achievement District.

The legislation would not impact current law that allows the state Board of Education to place an entire district in conservatorship after the governor declares a state of emergency in the district.

Also on Friday, the House Education Committee passed legislation to force F and D level districts to honor requests of students wanting to transfer to higher performing districts. The receiving district could deny the transfer requests based on capacity issues.

Both bills now must be considered by the full House.

Teacher paychecks

Legislation was passed Friday out of the Senate ensuring that school teachers and other local school district personnel can be paid in 12 equal monthly installments.

The legislation passed the House earlier and now goes to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature. The bill is needed, supporters say, because the Legislature changed the law in 2012 mandating that school could not start before the third Monday in August, meaning teachers would not work the prescribed number of days to get paid for August.

Some question whether the bill is constitutional because it pays an employee for work not yet done. The alternative would be to change the school start date or pay educators and school employees in unequal installments.