District to boost student performance

By NIKKI SMITH,

Increasing student achievement is always a priority at Petal School District. This year, the district is focusing on three ways to work toward that continuous goal.

“We are working on increasing student achievement by increasing focus in other areas,” said Andy Schoggin as he presented to the Petal School District Board of Trustees at a regular meeting of the board on Tuesday.

The number one area of focus going forward is attendance.

“We can do a lot with these kids,” Schoggin said. “But the first thing is having them here.”

He said while students tend to miss five to eight days a year, those missed days have an effect.

“It is very important to get them here,” he said. “Once we have them here, we have to address some social and emotional issues.”

The second way the district aims to improve student achievement is by working to meet the social and emotional needs of students from the primary school to the high school.

The district is already making strides in this area with the hiring of Anita Knott, the Petal School District positive behavior specialist.

“(Knott) is addressing those issues,” Schoggin said.

The third focus for boosting achievement in the district is by doing more with advanced programs for advanced learners.

Superintendent Matt Dillon said this does not mean just adding more to a student’s workload and calling it an AP course, but that the district is shifting focus to provide more opportunities for students to learn in a variety of ways, including robotics.

Schoggin said focus groups are being conducted to determine the best ways to move forward in each of these areas.

“We know what we can do when we have them here,” Dillon added. “We’re here to grow these kids to the highest level and encourage them to be the best that they can be.”

Bill Lott gave the board an update on the progress of the transition lab, a building that is undergoing renovations for use of the school district.

“The sky is the limit for what we can do with that space,” Dillon said.

The deadline for completion is fast approaching with some final touches being done later this week, according to Dillon.

He said the space will be used for professional development, as well as special board meetings and receptions.

As for the design, Dillon said it will have more of a home feel to it.

The maintenance team took on approximately 650 work orders just through the months of July and August.

The team began putting up new road signs across the district. Dillon said the new signs were bought to make all the signage at each campus uniform.

Lott presented to the board various maintenance projects that he and his team have completed so far across all campuses, including new striping in parking lots, painting, new carpet, lighting and pressure washing, among others.

“I can’t say enough about (Lott),” Dillon said. “He’s wearing two hats right now.”

“Any role we’ve thrown at you, you’ve taken and run with it,” board chairman Bruce Magee added.

 

In other action, the board:

• Approved the minutes from the Aug. 8 meeting;

• Approved the following: claims docket, financial statements, bank reconciliation July 31 and the removal of fixed assets;

• Approved the recommendations of Arethia Davis as a nutrition assistant at Petal Primary; Virginia Nowell as a nutrition assistant at Petal Upper Elementary; and Leslie Binion as a bus driver;

• Approved a change of status for Shanna Britt as Petal Middle School yearbook sponsor;

• Approved extra work contracts for Claudia Smith and Selena McCardle;

• Approved substitute teachers and substitute child nutrition workers for 2017-18;

• Approved out of district student transfers;

• Approved out of district student enrollment;

• Approved the acceptance of a Walmart Community Grant in the sum of $2,000 to be used to purchase additional chromebooks for students to use in the classroom;

• Approved a donation of $5,489.20 from Petal High School soccer boosters to purchase summer training gear;

• Approved a donation of $2,500 from Cooperative Energy to purchase supplies for Petal Upper Elementary robotics team;

• Approved a donation of $2,500 from Cooperative Energy to purchase supplies for Petal Primary gifted program;

• Approved the corrected special service contract between PRVO and Petal School District for the 2017-18 school year;

• Approved out of state student travel for Culinary II, Teacher Academy II and Business and Marketing II teachers and students to travel to New Orleans School of Cooking to observe a teaching and cooking demonstration and explore the branding and marketing of their products on Nov. 14.