The Itawamba County School Board approved two policy changes during their recent meeting that could potentially affect all county students.
Board members revisited policy changes introduced at their Feb. 16 meeting that alter both the number of credits needed to graduate and how students transition from juvenile detention into the school system. Both changes were unanimously approved.
During the previous meeting, Trae Wiygul, IAHS principal, suggested a policy change in regard to students being allowed to graduate from high school with 23 credits rather than 24. This would allow students to omit taking Algebra II. Graduates would be unable to enroll in a four-year college right out of high school, but they would be able to attend a community college and then transfer to a four-year school.
In the absence of fifth district board member Tony Wallace at the earlier meeting, only four members heard Wiygul's presentation; however, all five agreed this would be beneficial since students often drop out of school during their junior or senior year when they realize they do not have the required Algebra II credit.
Helping dropout rates
Board members and Teresa McNeece, superintendent of education, agreed this will possibly help the county's dropout rate.
A second policy change also sailed through with all members voting for its adoption. This policy states that students who have been in juvenile detention be transitioned back into the system through the alternative school before they return to the regular school campus.
In other business, board members heard a presentation from Dr. Durwood Tutor who has conducted a growth study of the county. During his study, Tutor interviewed various school personnel including principals and teachers. In addition, he met with parents throughout the county.
As a result of his study, Tutor offered a plethora of suggestions for improvement within the school system. He said one of the most frequent problems is communication between the school and parents. According to his study, this problem is prevalent in all schools. Tutor gave each school board member, principal and superintendent a binder filled with facts he had assimilated during his study.
Tutor offered a projection of the number of students the county will expect to have enrolled by 2017. Based on current live birth rates, he believes there would a five percent increase.
At the culmination of Tutor's presentation, McNeece responded with, "If we have problems, we want to address them. If we've done well, we want to hear about it."
Because at least three of the board members will be out of town on March 16, the next meeting will be held on March 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the superintendent's office. The April 1 meeting will be omitted since the two are so close to each other.
Other business included the following:
* Approval of school calendar for 2009-2010. The main change for the coming school year will be the addition of four partial work days for teachers in that students will be dismissed at 1 p.m. on Sept. 23, Nov. 4, 2009, Feb. 17, and April 7, 2010. These days are planned to fall within months when no staff development days exist in the calendar. This time will allow teachers to complete necessary tasks for their classrooms and students.
* Heard from Glyn Robinson concerning a bus which was involved in wreck. The 2006 model bus received $34,591.49 in damages. This is 77 percent of its current value so it is possible that the bus will be totaled. Robinson said the insurance carriers for both parties are working on resolving the situation.
* Approved employees donating sick leave days to Cindy Barnes and Selena Armstrong;
* Approved Paul Bryant and Bradley Barnes as substitutes;
* Recognized Patty Chumbley as the county's parent of the year. Chumbley is a Tremont High School parent.
* Approved field trips, T-shirt sales at Fairview and inventory deletions.