Crowd examines amended building proposal at meeting

By Joseph McCain
The Winston County Journal
The Louisville Municipal School Board discussed an amended version on the proposed building program in the district.

The new program outlined about $5.4 million in expenditures versus the first plan that had about $7.5 million in expenditures. The elimination of new classrooms for moving of the 7th and 8th grade to the Louisville High School Campus was the main savings of about $2 million. According to the new plan, the 7th and 8th grade will remain at the Eiland Middle School Campus.

“This has changed a little bit since the last time I presented this after discussions with the board,” said Superintendent William Wade.

Superintendent Wade outlined the amended plan:
• add 5 classrooms, one restroom, remodel the 5 tech prep classrooms into a  cafeteria and kitchen, update the gym with air conditioning and add some canopies at Nanih Waiya. The new plan would create a cafeteria and kitchen to seat 250 to 300 persons at Nanih Waiya. 
• add a physical education building and canopies at Fair Elementary
• add a physical education building and canopies at Louisville Elementary
• Make repairs to Noxapater hallway, football stadium lighting, and canopies.
• Make repairs to the Eiland Middle School Gym.
• Make repairs to the Louisville High School softball stadium.
“Nanih Waiya is where the most needs are,” said Dr. Wade.

Wade noted under the new plan the 6th grade moving to Eiland Middle School may affect the afterschool CAPPS program next year.

Many of the concerned citizens who addressed the board and Dr. Wade questioned why the funds were not being spent to address student achievement directly.

Linda Humphries, LMSD District Parent of the Year, hit the heart of the matter when she noted that studies on education noted that class size and teachers where the two greatest factors on student success. She also noted that class size affected teacher retention and student discipline.

“We are failing in our classroom sizes,” said Humphries. “Teachers will choose to teach 15 students rather than 30.”

“65 percent of elementary classrooms in Noxapater has 20 or more students and 33 percent have 23 or more students…. At Fair Elementary 82 percent of classes have 20 or above students and 38 percent has 23 or more students. In Nanih Waiya, 37 percent of its classrooms with more than 20 students but only 1 percent has more than 23 students,” said Humphries.

“This is about student performance,” added Humphries. “They need smaller classes.”

Rev. James Headd later noted that Nanih Waiya which is a B rated school and the most successful in the district had the smallest class sizes yet was receiving additional classrooms on campus yet the low performing schools (Noxapater and Fair Elementary) with the larger class sizes were not receiving more classrooms to help reduce class size.

“The class size is so high at Louisville why not take the 5 classrooms at Nanih Waiya and put on at Louisville,” said Headd. “I would think you would want to bring up the the low performing schools.”

Consolidation of the district schools was also discussed with Board president Bobby Moody noting that the desegregation court order  prevented the schools from combining. 

“When you talk about combining these schools someone will have to go back to court and spend a bunch of money,” said Moody.

Several citizens noted if that would improve student achievement and save money that they do what was needed to get such an order.

“If it takes going back to court than that’s what needs to be done if that is what is best for the students,” said Rev. Headd.

According to citizen’s discussions after the meeting, two other districts in Mississippi under desegregation orders have consolidated, Choctaw County is presently awaiting Department of Justice approval on its consolidation plan to eliminate Weir Attendance Center.

Only one parent, Sandra Long, addressed the expense and plans on how to repay the borrowed funds. 
Long questioned counting on Sixteen Section land funds and the 3 mil note over the time to repay the loan.

“A bigger debt leads to a bigger pay back time and more time for the economy to fall. If we can’t pay for it with the Sixteen section land funds and 3 mil tax note where is the money coming from,” said Long.
“We looked at the revenue is adequate for those payments,” said Moody.

The board members thanked those who attended the meeting which was about 165 and invited them to the regular board meeting.

The board was set to meet Dec. 11 at 5:30 p.m. after the newspaper’s deadline.