By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo Superintendent Randy Shaver addressed the district’s plan for hiring more minority teachers on Wednesday night during a community question-and-answer forum.
He spoke about the plan for increasing minority hires in response to one of the questions he received at the forum, which was held at White Hill Baptist Church. Shaver answered a total of 17 questions that were submitted by community members in attendance.
The superintendent said the district has earmarked 44 percent of its teacher recruiting budget to use for recruiting trips to historically black colleges and universities in Mississippi and Louisiana.
The district also videos interviews with prospective teachers and has a panel review those videos to make sure that it is hiring the most qualified candidates.
“I firmly believe that a district’s staff should as closely match the makeup of the student body as possible,” Shaver said. “We are far from that right now.”
However, Shaver said his priority is also to hire the highest quality of applicants and that there is a limited number of minorities currently applying to be teachers.
He said steps need to be taken to lure more minorities into education.
Several participants asked Shaver about what he intends to do to decrease the dropout rate.
The superintendent mentioned several programs the district already uses, such as the school for student mothers and the high school advancement academy, which helps students who are two academic years behind their peers.
In addition to focusing on dropout prevention, the district also must work to recover dropouts, Shaver said.
School officials, and possibly city leaders, should spend a Saturday visiting dropouts at home and invite them back to the district, Shaver said. He said the district is working on plans to do just that in the near future, possibly during the current school year but at least at some time before August.
“There is nothing more important to the health of our community than the education of its citizens,” Shaver said. “My feeling is that every child that enters kindergarten needs to graduate.”
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or firstname.lastname@example.org.