Trustees reapprove abstinence-only, drop ring policy

By Joseph McCain The Winston County Journal

The Louisville Municipal School District Board of Trustees covered numerous issues during its regular May 8 meeting with reapproval of abstinence only policy and eliminating the district’s championship ring policy. Sex education Since all Mississippi Schools under new state mandates must incorporate sex education into the curriculum, the Louisville School Board revisited its abstinence-only policy. After reviewing and discussing the abstinence-only policy and the abstinence-plus choice, the trustees reapproved their choice of the abstinence-only policy. Superintendent William Wade explained the additional financial and other hurdles with changing to the abstinence-plus choice. “With abstinence-plus choice we have to hire a nurse to review the program and how it is taught and only certified biology teachers can teach the abstinence-plus classes,” said Wade. Board member Betty Byrd noted her concerns about the high pregnancy rates, sexual activity rates and STD rates in the state and county. She noted that further education may help fight those poor decisions. Wade noted that abstinence-only with the cost savings and dealing with the sensitive subject matter may be the best way to go for the first year. “We can start off the first year with abstinence-only and see how it works,” said Wade. “This is a good discussion but we should go slow and be cost effective,” added Board president Bobby Moody. With the class, students will be separated by gender. Parents will have to provide permission for the student to take the one week class. The trustees still have to decide what grade levels will receive the program. The curriculum must be approved by the state Department of Education. No more school funds on Champ rings The board eliminated its Championship ring policy after discussing with its board attorney Jim Keith and Jessica Morris. Attorney Keith explained to the trustees that no public funds could be spent of personal student items such as Championship rings. Prior to the meeting the district had been paying half of the ring cost with private persons raising the other half. Keith explained that once the school district touched those funds and deposited into its account that those funds became public monies and no public monies could be spent on a student personal item. He noted that such items would have to purchased not by the district but by a group separate from the district and a group separate from the district must raise the funds. When questioned about lettermen jackets presented to students, Keith explained that lettermen jackets were directly addressed in the law as an exception since every school and every athlete receives one but championship rings were not. The board voted to void the paying of half championship rings policy completely. Teachers and Parents recognized The trustees took the opportunity May 8 to recognize the teachers and parents of the year in the district. The district recognizes one teacher and parent from each school and then chooses a district parent and teacher of the year. The teacher of the year for each school are: Kimberly Flake of Noxapater, Betty Luke of Nanih Waiya, Renae Easley of Eiland Middle School, Mary Nell Woolery of Louisville High School, Linda Waldron of Louisville Elementary and Ada Woodward of Fair Elementery. Woodward also earned the district teacher of the year award. Woodward who has served for 30 years teaching in the district will retire at the end of this school term. The trustees noted the recognition was very appropriate since it was teacher appreciation week. “I want to thank the teachers for going above and beyond and it is an honor to have them in the school system,” said Moody. The district recognized six parents of the year as well. The parents recognized were Linda Nunn Hughes of Noxapater, Shelley Robertson of Nanih Waiya, Rita Eichelberger of Eiland Middle School, Elmer Coleman of Louisville High School, Ben Comeaux of Fair Elementary, and Linda Humphries of Louisville Elementary. Humphries was also chosen District Parent of the Year. “You are making a better community with your involvement…the schools are a reflection of the community,” said Superintendent Wade. Seeking new law firm The Trustees also meet the new lawyer who will be representing them for Adams and Reese law firm. Jessica Morris who has been with the firm 3 years was introduced by Jim Keith who has served as the board attorney. President of the Board Bobby Moody noted that the school district would be advertising to see if any local law firms wished to apply for position of board attorney. In other business, the trustees; • Approved and discussed the Title I and Title II federal funds for the district. Assistant Superintendent Norma Jackson highlighted to the board that the district had been cut about 15 percent in the federal funds. The district will receive $930,252 in Title I funds and $215,211 in Title II funds. Jackson explained that after examining the district plans and hopes that $300,000 of the Title I funds would cover the 4 sections of Pre-K set up for next year. According to the discussions, about 83 students are signed up for the 4 sections with a waiting list also collected for the classes. Superintendent Wade noted that he hoped to find a way to expand the Pre-K program. He also explained the program is setup according to the demographics of the district based upon free and reduced lunches with three of the classes at Fair Elementary and one at Noxapater Attendance Center. Jackson added that the remaining federal funds helps pay salaries and for other programs in the district. • Approved salaries for the Career and Technology Center and discussed the closing of some programs and opening of other programs such as the Teacher Academy program which will began next year. See today’s edition for article on the program. • Approved the claims docket for the previous month, March bank balances and April financial reports. The trustees also approved annual advertising of Ad Valorem Notice. • Approved the consent agenda which covered removing fixed assets, recorded donations to LHS baseball, LHS scholarship, and Career and Technology center (See today’s edition for article on HCC donation to Tech center). • Approved the annual professional development plan. • Approved student transfer from Fair to Noxapater. Attorney Keith noted that since did not affect racial makeup of school that it was within the policy and law. • approved teachers for Special Education Department Extended School year which about 13 students covered by the program. • Approved 4 Sixteen Section items including three leases and Superintendent Wade approved to sign for FSA, NRCS items. • Held an executive session to discuss Sixteen Section litigation, a possible property purchase, personnel and NAACP questionnaire. The next regular meeting of the school board is set for June 12 at 5:30 p.m.