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Superintendent talks school goals at Saturday forum

During a community forum held Saturday,Brookhaven School District Superintendent Dr. Lisa Karmacharyaexplained her goals for the school district and discussed somechanges she would like to implement.

    “I’ve been on the job maybe 16 full weeks, but I have had time toreflect on where we are and where we need to go,” Karmacharya saidduring the event at Alexander Junior High School. “I want to leadto eventually become a star district.”

    “Star district” is the highest performance label the MississippiDepartment of Education awards.

    Karmacharya outlined three major goals: consistency, communicationand leadership.

    The superintendent emphasized the need for consistency across thedistrict. She said that in the past, district schools havesometimes operated in isolation.

    To alleviate this, Karmacharya plans to reduce the number ofstudent handbooks.

    Currently, each district school has its own handbook. Beginningwith the 2012-13 school year, the district will have only twohandbooks: a kindergarten through sixth-grade handbook and aseventh- through 12th-grade handbook.

    The second of Karmacharya’s goals, communication, was a virtuepraised by all at the event, sponsored by Café – A+, the CommunityAction Group of Brookhaven, the Brookhaven/Lincoln County NAACP andthe A. Phillip Randolph Institute.

    “We should ensure two-way communication occurs between the home,school and community,” said Stephen Keyes, the forum’s moderator.”Children have more opportunity for engaged learning when thisoccurs.”

    Plans also exist for a parents advisory board. Such a board woulddirectly facilitate communication between parents and schoolleaders.

    Karmacharya also wants to see community and student advisoryboards. She plans to install a public relations coordinator tofacilitate these boards and to oversee other communicationsneeds.

    In the fall, the district will move the parents education center toMamie Martin Elementary School and unveil a new website designed bythe consulting firm Power I.T.

    Time at the forum was provided for members of the public to ask thesuperintendent questions. Most questions concerned policies andprocedures directly involving students.

    Chandra Nunnery, president of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute,inquired as to Karmacharya’s stance on school uniforms. Karmacharyastated she had no plan to implement uniforms unless there wasstrong desire for it in the district.

    A forum participant who believed that in previous years childrenwere grouped in classes together by socio-economic status expressedconcern about how this would be addressed in the future. Thesuperintendent affirmed her belief in fair treatment for allchildren but said the issues are sometimes complex.

    “The school district has a poverty rate among students of 60percent or better. That brings challenges,” Karmacharya said.

    Karmacharya praised the event’s discussion and questions as a stepin the kind of practices she wants to implement through thedistrict.

    “I want us to be honest with each other about our problems,” shesaid. “If we are not honest about the problems, we can’t fixthem.”