EDITORIAL: Tupelo’s first day

Students in the Tupelo Public Schools report for the 2009-2010 academic year today, a fresh start with a new structure of grade groupings and school assignments below the middle school, all designed to provide continuity and stability.
The district has changed from seven schools, kindergarten to third grade, and three schools, fourth to sixth grade, to five K-2 schools, four 3-5 schools, one sixth grade school, one 7-8 middle school, and Tupelo High, 9-12.
While the restructuring requires a change and patience, it is designed to keep children together with their classmates as they change schools in the rise through grade levels. It will also help stabilize demographics from school to school, resulting in less frequent school zone changes in the future.
A long, complex, thorough and openly discussed planning process used a computer model set around neighborhoods as the planning units.
The new structure sustains the long-established policy that every school reflect the demographics of the whole district – a real community vision that seeks to avoid racial imbalance and promote inclusiveness.
The district’s expanded commitment to lowering the student-teacher ratio to 15-1 through the third grade should pay dividends in individual students’ academic success over the long term.
Mayor Jack Reed, Jr., an enthusiastic public schools supporter and graduate of the Tupelo system, offered inspiration for the new year in his address Monday at a convocation of teachers and staff.
“ … I want to say ‘thank you’ as a past student, and, as a parent of two recent graduates, of the Tupelo Public School System. Thank you for nurturing me, and my children, from kindergarten through senior year. Thank you for teaching us the joys of reading. … Thank you for teaching us how ‘to play and get along with others’! Thank you for giving us role models who influence us every day … ”
“ … Know that we appreciate you and we realize that we are inextricably linked. Our destinies are one.
“ … As good as our city is – and as good as our school system is – we can both be even better. And the exciting thing to me is that each of us in this room, as one team, pulling together – encouraging each other – have the opportunity to be a part of something wonderfully satisfying, both personally and professionally.”
The new superintendent, Randy Shaver, has started his work enthusiastically with what we have known for decades as the “‘Tupelo spirit,” and we believe new successes are waiting to be won.
The students are the focus of attention, and with a whole community behind them, they can succeed.

NEMS Daily Journal