Nonprofit formed to support TPSD

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A group of Tupelo residents announced Thursday the formation of a new nonprofit corporation dedicated to supporting the Tupelo Public School District.
Leaders Engaged for the Advancement of Public Schools Inc., or LEAPS, will act as an advocate for teachers, administrators, parents, students and residents in the district, according to a press release from the organization.
Its goals include fact gathering and promoting open dialogue, accountability and fiscal responsibility of the schools.
The formation of the group comes at a time when community members are raising questions about the discipline and academic performance of Tupelo’s schools.
The group began over a cup of coffee with residents discussing how they could help the school district, said LEAPS President Rob Hudson, who owns several McDonald’s franchises.
“I believe if the motives of those citizens are pure, there is nothing but positive that can come out of a group like LEAPS,” Hudson said.
“Without question we want the same thing that everyone wants, including the school board and the administration, and that is to make Tupelo schools as great as they can possibly be.”
LEAPS, which hopes to serve as a bridge between the community and its schools, will begin gathering that information from a 19-question anonymous survey accessible at www.surveymonkey.com/TupeloSchools.
The survey includes questions about the Apple laptop initiative, discipline and safe environments and the quality of the district’s education and its athletic and extracurricular activities.
LEAPS also has an e-mail address and a Facebook page and plans to hold community forums.
“We all want to work in a positive direction to do anything we can to help improve and provide support for our public schools,” said board member Lisa Hawkins, the owner and president of Room to Room Furniture.
“Tupelo was built on a strong public school system, and I think it is one of the most valuable assets to our community.
“I think the voice for the community may have been missing, and this is the vehicle for those voices to be heard in a positive way.”
Hudson said the organization’s board, which currently has about 10 members, is still being formed. The plan is to gather data, analyze it and then communicate with city and school leaders, Hudson said.
“There is so much information out there now, much of which is reality and much of which is perceived,” Hudson said. “We have stressed that we have to seek the facts.”
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@journalinc.com.

To take the survey
- You can access the LEAPS survey at www.surveymonkey.com/TupeloSchools. For more information, contact tupelo.leaps@gmail.com.
You can also visit the group’s Facebook page at “Tupelo Leaders Engaged for the Advancement of Public Schools.”