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Barrett: Testing rule reason for mandate miss

Brookhaven School District officials were updated Tuesday on thedistrict’s rating in the No Child Left Behind act, learning thatthe district did not make the federally-required adequate yearlyprogress status.

Superintendent Lea Barrett explained to board members why everyschool met the mark, but the district as a whole did not for the2003-04 school year.

She said the rating came as a result of test scores from specialeducation students who are tested at their grade levels rather thanlevel of ability.

“We have provided instruction for those children at the levelwhere they could perform,” said Barrett. “Traditionally, that’swhat we’ve been encouraged to do. We have done that to date becausewe felt like that’s what made sense.”

However, when the students took the federally-mandated tests,they did not meet the AYP requirements.

Barrett continued by saying that the district is required totest 95 percent of its students and only up to 1 percent ofstudents can be restricted if they have significant cognitivedisability.

Board members expressed concern over the strict testing regimeand asked if those requirements could be changed. Barrett said manyspecial interest groups in the United States were lobbying for achange for special education testing.

Another area that has been receiving attention from voters isthe funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program(MAEP).

Board member Karen Braden reported to board members her recentinvolvement in the Coalition for Children and Public Educationcommittee.

The goal of the group is to make full funding of MAEP a priorityof lawmakers. The group hopes each school district in the statewill set up a committee consisting of the superintendent, a boardmember, teacher, parent and business owner from the community, saidBraden.

“We each reach 15 people and explain to people the importance ofcalling and writing their legislators,” said Braden.

In other financial matters, the district will not be audited bythe state auditor this year as originally scheduled, said FinanceDirector Susan Quin.

“Normally they will audit every third year,” she said.

This year the district will be audited by a private firm becausethe state auditor’s office lack of personnel, causing a backlog intheir work, said Quin. Board members accepted a bid from Patrick,Lowery and Associates for the yearly audit required by thestate.

The board also accepted a bid on a significant timber sale onSection 16-7-9. The money from the sale will cover the cost ofbuilding a softball complex at Mamie Martin Elementary School forthe high school softball team.

The complex will be located on the field at the elementaryschool, with renovations made to the field and allowing it toresemble the high school baseball field, said districtofficials.

While discussing athletics, Deputy Superintendent James Tillmanupdated the board on the status of Panther Park, saying it wasgoing well and being enjoyed by parents and teachers.

“We’d like to continue to encourage our parents to come enjoythe fun and excitement in Panther Park before our football games,”he said.

Board chairman Dr. Prentiss Smith said the district hopes toexpand the park’s uses, allowing teachers to use it as an outsideclassroom at times.

The meeting came to an end with an executive session to discussa student matter. Barrett reported no action taken following thediscussion.