The district pulled from its ranks for three new assistant principals for its upper elementary schools, which house third- through fifth-grade students.
"They'll give us the flexibility we need to allow the principals to focus on instruction," said Tupelo Superintendent Randy Shaver.
The new assistant principals:
- Rankin Elementary - Tupelo Middle School science teacher Kimberly Foster.
- Lawhon Elementary - Literacy Coach Cynthia Pike, who has been an educator for 30 years.
- Pierce Street Elementary - Gifted teacher Amy Tate, who has taught at Milam, Lawhon and Carver.
Lawndale Elementary School already has an assistant principal, Jason Harris.
All three women hold master's degrees. The staffing changes were approved this past week by the Board of Trustees.
Tupelo High School will forego filling a vacant assistant principal position to hire a new science teacher.
The current administrative intern will become an administrative assistant and shoulder some of the load that would have normally been handled by that assistant principal position.
Because of the expansion of the 15-1 student teacher ratio to the second and third grades, the district has eliminated 24 assistant teacher positions. Instead of having an assistant for each classroom, the remaining assistants will be split between two classrooms.
The district has been able to rehire three of those assistants in other positions, Shaver said. The assistants who have lost their positions also will be considered first for other open positions, such as the two new assistant teacher positions at the Early Childhood Education Center.
"We'll interview from that pool first," Shaver said.
The district has 14 new licensed teachers - 11 hired for the coming school year and three hired for the 2008-2009 year - as part of the move to a 15-1 ratio. Shaver said research supports that students do better with small classroooms and more licensed teachers.
"Even though there's some pain involved because of people losing their jobs, it's much better for the students," Shaver said.
When the move to the 15-1 student-teacher ratio was approved in 2005, district officials anticipated that retirements and customary turnover would allow the district to reduce the number of assistant teachers through attrition.
However, because of the economic downturn, fewer than expected chose to retire or move on to other jobs.
There was some attrition, Shaver said, "but it didn't get us nearly as close as we had hoped."
Contact Michaela Gibson Morris at (662) 678-1599 or email@example.com.