School work group issues must do' list
MERIDIAN PUBLIC SCHOOLS Students at Meridian High School are shown Thursday getting into buses for their trip home. Later in the day, the New Expectations work group presented its report detailing what the district needs to excel during a school board meeting at Meridian Community College. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
April 18, 2003
After many hours of deliberation over what is needed to turn Meridian's public schools around, the New Expectations work group on Thursday presented its report to the school board.
Made up of members of the community, the group was charged with determining what the school district and the community should expect from each other. They gathered one last time Thursday to present what they consider necessary steps to improve the school system.
Another group called What Works, made up of teachers and principals, will present its report Tuesday. Their charge was to assess the performance of existing school programs.
Connie Shannon, PTA Council president and group member, said now that the school district has defined its priorities, what it needs is a "captain to guide the ship."
New Expectations began its two-month process by highlighting what is wrong with the school district. Low test scores, low accreditation levels and what school board President Fred Wile has called "low morale" has placed Mississippi's schools at the bottom of the nation.
Meridian's test scores are below the state average, which means if they do not improve, the district could lose control of low-performing schools.
The meeting, broadcast on a local cable channel, was designed to reach a broader segment of the community, not just those who attend school board meetings.
Group member Elaine Maust said many local churches are willing to help students but are rarely, if ever, asked to do so.
Walter Patton, who also serves as president of the Meridian chapter of the NAACP, said many churchgoers are willing to pick up students and offer counseling or tutoring.
Wile said the report is "vital" in finding a new school superintendent and expects to begin the search within the next week.