Barrett: School district in line for full accreditation

Published 6:00 am Friday, February 22, 2008

Brookhaven School District officials can breathe a sigh ofrelief today after accreditation counselors from the SouthernAssociation of Colleges and Schools assured them Wednesday thatthey will be recommended for full accreditation.

Superintendent Lea Barrett said she was told the school districtmet every one of the standards for accreditation, and that theywould be recommended without qualification. She said theaccreditation team made recommendations and commendations based ontalks with over 171 stakeholders in the school district, includingstudents, parents, staff and board members.

“We were thrilled to hear it,” she said. “We called a boardmeeting and had all our administrators and principals present tohear the report, and of course we had a big round of applause afterthe findings.”

Barrett said after the grueling and exhausting three-day visit,she and members of her staff are just ready for a little downtime.

“We’re thrilled and tired,” she said. “But this was really ateam effort. It took every member of the district and theboard.”

The accreditors did not present a written report at the time ofthe announcement. A formal report must be written up and issued tothe school district in 30 days.

Barrett said among the four recommendations the school wasissued, one was to continue to improve technology in theclassrooms. Another was to continue to improve communicationsbetween the schools and the parents.

“I think we have a good communication line between parents andteachers now,” she said. “But I don’t think people are alwayscompletely informed on what is going on district-wide.”

Another recommendation was that they continue to improve thedistrict’s Web site.

“This evaluation is incredibly helpful for us,” Barrett said.”It helps us focus on what we need to do to keep the momentum goingin the district.”

Assistant Superintendent James Tillman said it’s also a goodopportunity for stakeholders to be fully informed on all theaspects of what goes on in the school district.

“It gives our personnel an opportunity to see what’s going on upand down the line as far as institutional progress,” he said.

Among the commendations issued to the district was thededication of the school board and administration to being involvedin the educational process, Tillman said.

“We were also commended for our community support,” he said.

Barrett said one of the accreditation counselors was soimpressed with Brookhaven and its dedication to education that hetold her he was almost ready to move to town.

“They were very impressed with the support we get from theBrookhaven community,” she said.

The district was also commended for the educational climate, asstudents, teachers and administrators all seemed to take greatpride in their schools and in the educational opportunities theyafford.

The continuing professional development the city schools haveimplemented was another point of praise for the accreditationteam.

“They told us even the students they had talked to had said theycould tell a difference since we started the professionaldevelopment for our teachers,” Barrett said.

Among the other commendations was the cleanliness,attractiveness and upkeep of the facilities, Tillman said.Accreditors had noticed that while some of the buildings are older,great pride has been taken to keep them attractive andfunctional.

After the district gets the written reports in 30 days, Barrettsaid, it has to file a followup in two years to show therecommendations given by the accreditation team are beingaddressed.

“We intend to continue to do what we’re doing, and we’reencouraged now that it will pay a dividend if we stick to it,”Barrett said.