Parents, teachers ‘step up’ for schools

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 10, 2005

More than 20 parents, teachers and administrators representedthe Lincoln County and Brookhaven School Districts on Sunday in astatewide effort to promote fully funding the Mississippi AdequateEducation Program.

MAEP is a funding plan that concentrates on making sure everystudent has a qualified teacher and that every community in thestate has the resources to provide quality education programs. Howmuch money the program requires is computed annually based on aformula established by state lawmakers and educators.

The Lincoln County group gave up their their Sunday afternoon towalk 2.5 miles along Highways 149 and 49 from Braxton to theSimpson-Rankin county line carrying petitions with the signaturesof southern Mississippians in favor of fully funding education inthe state.

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Brookhaven volunteers added 2,132 signatures to the pile whileLincoln County volunteers added more than 1,000 signatures. Thesignatures were gathered during the last week with interestedresidents able to travel to any of the county schools to sign thepetitions.

“It’s been a large undertaking,” said Dr. Sam Bounds, presidentof the state superintendents’ association.

Approximately 80 districts statewide participated in the Step UpFor Children Petition Relay, he said.

The relay included parents, teachers and administrators walkingthe petitions along three legs. Petitions are being walked upHighway 49 from the Gulf Coast and south from Indianola and Oxfordto link up in Jackson at the Capitol Jan. 11.

The final leg early Tuesday morning will be from the statefairgrounds to the Capitol, where educators will hold a newsconference on the front steps.

“We hope to have more than 1,000 participating Tuesday,” Boundssaid.

Bounds said he believes more than 120,000 signatures weregathered during the week-long efforts. Those petitions will begiven to former Gov. William Winter and Jack Reid Sr., a Tupelobusinessman, to present to the state legislature Tuesday.

The Lincoln County group met parents and teachers from Lawrence,Copiah and Simpson counties in Braxton to accept the petitions.Lawrence County School District Superintendent Russell Caudillpresented the petitions to Lucy Shell, the Lincoln Countyorganizer, Brookhaven School District Superintendent Lea Barrettand Brookhaven School District Assistant Superintendent JamesTillman.

Becky Flowers, a parent of a Bogue Chitto student, was amongparents and educators representing each campus of the LincolnCounty School District.

“I’m here because I’m concerned about the education of ourchildren and the funding for the schools,” Flowers said. “If wedon’t educate them now we’ll have to rehabilitate them later.Funding education should be the state’s first priority.”

Flowers said the school system is not asking for more money thanwhat was promised to them when the legislature created the MAEP afew years ago.

“We’re not asking for special treatment, just adequate funding,”she said.