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MSA alters schedule, grade scale

Mississippi School of the Arts officials are looking forward tosome improvements, ranging from grading scale adjustments toearlier check-out times every other Friday, when the fall semesterbegins in a few weeks.

And school leaders believe students will be excited too.

“We’re making some really great major changes in the schedulingthis year,” said MSA Principal Jana Perry. “We’ve just looked atwhere we could tighten things up and made some improvements.”

Perry said the first major difference will be in scheduling.

Instead of the 7:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. school day schedule thestudents have had previously, they will be in class from 8 a.m. to4:38 p.m. Perry said some of the difference was made up with lesstime in the cafeteria.

“Our director of food service is fantastic, and she worked withus to get our food schedule down about 15 minutes,” Perry said. “Itdoesn’t sound like a lot, but looking at the span of entire schoolyear, that works into an incredible amount of instructiontime.”

Perry said the school will still meet all the state requirementsfor minutes spent in class, but it will free up just a little moretime for students who are already pulling a lot of weight.

“Our kids are going longer than most any school in the stateanyway; they need some fun time and some down time, too,” Perrysaid. “Our teachers are also excited about it.”

The grading scale will be another factor that will see a revamp,but Perry said the point is to make students more competitive whenapplying for scholarships.

The previous scale had grades from 95 to 100 rated as an A, butthe new one widens the range from 90 to 100 being an A. The scalesfor other letter grades are also being adjusted accordingly.

Perry said in part MSA took its cue from Brookhaven High School,which also recently changed up its grading scale.

“Across the state, there’s not just one grading scale thateveryone abides by,” she said. “This will help with scholarships,help them be more marketable when applying to schools and such.When a child who has a 94, which is a B on the earlier scale, iscompeting with a 90, which is an A on another scale, it’s notequitable. I commend (Brookhaven School District Superintendent)Mrs. (Lea) Barrett for making that change.”

Perry said she has discussed the new system with city schooldistrict officials, and that it seems to be a plus all the wayaround.

“I think this is actually going to be a really positive thing,”she said.

And another major change at MSA has more to do with safety thananything else. Students who leave the residential school on”go-home weekends” will now be able to leave earlier than in thepast.

“We’re doing early release on go-home Fridays, because so manyof our kids have been in accidents over the years because they’retraveling at night,” she said. “In the past they’ve been out at5:15 p.m., and some of them live four or five hours away, andthey’re driving at night in a car by themselves.”

Perry said the move will provide professional development timefor her staff as well as making long drives home safer for thestudents.

“This should really cut down on problems,” she said.