Tupelo Schools put the brakes on changes

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Change won’t occur quite so quickly in Tupelo’s schools this year.
As Interim Superintendent David Meadows prepares the district for the upcoming school year, he has chosen to delay or rethink several initiatives planned under previous superintendent Randy Shaver.
Among the public criticisms of Shaver’s administration was a belief that it tried to do too many things too quickly.
The district recently announced it will delay its participation in a pilot program that would have allowed students to enroll in rigorous courses and possibly graduate as sophomores or earn extensive college credit. That news followed a decision to push back Tupelo High School’s transition to a block schedule until fall 2012.
Meadows said both decisions resulted from a need to take a step back and focus upon restoring “public trust and confidence.”
The school district is also re-evaluating its one-to-one computer initiative and may suggest changes to the program during a July 19 school board meeting.
The program, which began this year, provided district-owned computers to all sixth- to 12th-grade students. Meadows said he has been seeking the input of administrators, teachers, parents and students about what worked well and what didn’t.
Meadows said he believes there is great value in using the 21st-century tools, but the district may tweak its usage.
Meanwhile, Deputy Superintendent Diana Ezell said administrators are re-evaluating the models used last year for teacher observations and evaluations to make them more effective.
Finally, the TPSD is studying ways to restructure its alternative school, Meadows said. The plan could include using several tiers at the school.
The alternative school also was restructured last year when the TPSD contracted with Ombudsman, a private educational company, to improve the school’s academics. Ombudsman used computer programs to provide individual instruction for the students sent there.

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@journalinc.com.