Petal school district releases more annual reports

By HASKEL BURNS,

Last month, officials from four educational facilities in the Petal School District released their annual reports during the regular meeting of the Petal School District Board of Directors. Three more reports were discussed during last night’s board meeting: Petal Middle School, Petal High School and the Special Services Department.

 

Petal Middle School

Attendance at the middle school averaged 94.57 percent through March, compared to 94.52 for the 2016-17 school year and 94.96 percent for the 2015-16 school year over the same period of time. Teacher attendance averaged at 94 percent through March, following 96 percent for the entire 2016-17 school year and 93 percent for the entire 2015-16 school year.

Principal Michael Hogan said the 64 percent rule – which requires students to spend at least 64 percent of the day in school to be counted present – has slightly hurt attendance numbers.

“Our goal … is 97 percent, and you can see that we are away from that,” he said. “They don’t understand that you have to be there 64 percent of the day, and if (parents) come and check them out, you might miss it by about 10 minutes and it’s going to count the whole day absent.

“So we have had some issues, and we’ve had some conversations with parents about that.”

The school received an accountability score of 490, with an accountability rating of A.

In the area of pre-advanced placement, the PSAT was given to 64 students, and officials expect to receive the scores for that testing on April 24. Twenty-four students participated in the Duke Tip ACT, with a 17 composite average score. Four students scored 21 on the test and two students scored 20.

“We had some 18s in there, we had a couple of 13s, some 14s,” Hogan said. “But overall, those kids can now see that, their parents are aware of what they made and what they need to grow in that area as well.”

Google Classroom is continuing to expand in classes at the middle school, and Edulastic is being used to create common assessments for student testing. The school currently has a 2 to 1 ration of students to Chromebooks in all departments, but added a Chromebook cart to every English Language Arts classroom.

 

Petal High School

Attendance at the high school averaged 95.18 percent through March, up from 94 percent over the same time during the 2016-17 school year. Teacher attendance is currently at 94.53 percent, with the highest attendance of the school year at 97.18 in August.

The school received an accountability score of 825 in the 2016-17 school year, for an accountability rating of A.

The average ACT score among students at the high school was 20.9 in 2013, 20.6 in 2014, 21 in 2015, 20.8 in 2016 and 20.3 in 2017. Those numbers are close to the national averages of 20.9 in 2013, 21 in 2014, 21 in 2015, 20.8 in 2016 and 21 in 2017.

“I think a goal of ours should be to be above the national average,” Principal Rob Knight said. “We were the same as the national average (three years) … but we want to be above that.”

The school will add an advanced placement human geography course for the next school year, along with speech, college biology and music appreciation courses.

Google Classroom is standard in almost every classroom, and all departments are using Edulastic for common assessment and nine weeks’ testing.

 

Special Services Department

The total student count in special education has increased to 709, up from 690 in the 2016-17 school year. Because of the increase in students, two special education teachers were added for the second semester – one at Petal Primary School and another at Petal High School.

“We’re very fortunate, because sometimes you’re not sure what you’re going to get when you hire people in the middle of the year,” said Katie Charleville, director of the special services department. “But we were very fortunate to find some very qualified teachers.

“One is a dyslexia therapist who is working at the primary school who has really been focusing on some reading with those kids, and also an experienced teacher at the high school, so that’s worked out very well.”

Two teachers were awarded a $1,000 Mississippi Professional Scholarship Educators grant, which was used to fund the startup for the Panther Brew Coffee Shop in the library at Petal High School. A $500 grant from the General Federation of Women’s Clubs/Mississippi Federation of Women’s Clubs will be used to purchase automobile equipment and products for students seeking an occupational diploma or certificate of completion.

On the Gifted side of the Special Services Department, students at Petal Primary School started a robotics team, which won the highest award a league tournament and went on to compete at the state level.

Officials will explore changes to programming for special education students in preparation for new diploma options, and the Mississippi Department of Education will implement MIDAS – a new statewide writing program – in the fall.