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Board OKs purchase of reading, math software

The Brookhaven School board has approvedthe purchase of new reading and math instructional software at thecost of $62,100.

    “This is one of the best programs out there,” said SuperintendentDr. Lisa Karmacharaya about the software during Tuesday night’sboard meeting.

    The software will be used at Mamie Martin and Brookhaven ElementarySchool.

    In an interview following the board meeting, Karmacharya describedthe new software as a means to address the district’s recent dropin statewide rankings.

    “At Lipsey we were on ‘Academic Watch,’ and BES feeds right intoLipsey,” Karmacharya said.

    Rankings released by the Mississippi Department of Education inSeptember showed BES dropping from “High Performing” to”Successful” and Lipsey from “Successful” to “Academic Watch.”

    The software will be purchased with Title I funds leftover from2010-11, said the superintendent.

    Title I funds are appropriated by the federal government to schooldistricts containing a high percentage of students from low-incomefamilies. The money must be spent within a certain time period andcannot be indefinitely carried over, according to Karmacharya.

    The software is called the “Academy of Reading” and the “Academy ofMath.” The software’s website says that it “helps at-risk studentsachieve rapid, permanent gains” in reading and math.

    Karmacharya said the software will be used for students that havebeen identified as having a challenge with reading or math.

    “It will identify students’ strengths and weaknesses,” shesaid.

    While the software can be used at any grade level, Karmacharya saidshe would be cautious about going below about second or maybe firstgrade.

    She said most kindergarten students do not have the requiredcomputer literacy.

    The district mascot also surfaced as a topic of discussion atTuesday night’s board meeting.

    Karmacharya sees a need for panther conformity across the schooldistrict.

    “That was one thing I noted when I first got here,” Karmacharyatold the board. “There are panthers everywhere but none are thesame.”

    Karmacharya has identified “consistency” as one of her goals forthe Brookhaven district. In previous meetings, pursuit of this goalhas entailed bringing handbooks at the different schools intoalignment.

    Karmacharya distributed a proposed panther head that couldpotentially become “the” Brookhaven district panther, replacing thediffering images of panthers throughout schools in thedistrict.

    Karmacharya said she discussed the issue at the first meeting shehad with a parent and community advisory board on Oct. 18.

    Board Chairman Carl Aycock expressed skepticism about the proposedpanther.

    “When you look at a mascot you should know, that is a bear, or,that is a panther,” Aycock said. “This just looks like a cat.”

    He asked Karmacharya if it looked like a panther to her.

    “Well, I know what it is,” she said.

    Ultimately, no plan of action was outlined for a singular mascotand the district’s mismatched pack of panthers live to see anotherday – for now.