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School times changing?

NATCHEZ — Decisions handed to the school board Thursday could determine what time your child gets on the school bus and to which direction the wheels go round.

At the Natchez-Adams School District’s regular board meeting, Federal Programs Director Marilyn-Alexander Turner went over some proposed changes as a result of the reorganization of the district schools.

Click here for a map of the reorganization of the schools in the city limits.

Due to more efficient bus routes delivering many children to residentially zoned schools, schools will start later in the morning than in the past.

All elementary schools for students in kindergarten through fifth grade will start at 8 a.m. and dismiss at 2:45 p.m.

Morgantown Middle School will start at 8:15 a.m. and dismiss at 3:15 p.m.

Natchez High School and the ninth grade academy on Natchez High’s campus will begin at 8:30 a.m. and dismiss at 3:30 p.m.

Turner also presented residential zoning maps for elementary students attending West, Frazier and McLaurin elementary schools.

Turner said maps would be available at the Braden administrative offices on Homochitto Sreet and at every elementary school. Superintendent Frederick Hill also said copies would be placed at the public library and at some area churches.

Turner said the district would also publicize the maps in the The Natchez Democrat. And parents can call ConnectEd, the district’s telephone messaging system, for information pertaining to their child’s school assignment.

Starting on the first day of school Aug. 20, West, Frazier and McLaurin elementary schools will house kindergarten through fifth graders based on residential zones.

West Elementary School will house students from all residences west of Melrose Avenue and Melrose Montebello Parkway, most houses downtown, those west of Bishop Street, parts of Minor Street and all houses in the Cemetery Road area.

McLaurin Elementary School will house students east of Melrose Avenue and Melrose Montebello Parkway, east of the Brenham Avenue area, south of Kelly Avenue and Dumas Drive, as well as houses north of St. Catherine’s Creek starting near Booker Road.

Frazier Elementary School will house students northwest of St. Catherine’s Creek where the creek intersects near the Dumas Drive area. The Dumas Drive area is also included in Frazier zone, as well as all houses north of Kelly Avenue.

Most of the county’s supervisor District 1 will be assigned to West. Most of District 2, all of District 3 and parts of District 5 will be assigned to McLaurin. And most of District 4 and parts of District 5 will be assigned to Frazier.

In other school news:

4 In a brief swoop, the Natchez-Adams School Board approved the district’s $39,822,109 budget for the next fiscal year without discussion.

The proposed budget includes an increase in ad valorem funding of $565,000, which will be generated by taxes on homes, automobile tags, business equipment and rental property.

The new budget, however, is $2 million less than last year’s budget due to cuts from the state and federal level.

Board member Tim Blalock made the motion to accept the budget as proposed, and Dr. Benny Wright seconded it.

Board President Wayne Barnett and board member David Troutman voted in favor of the motion.

Shortly after expressing continued concern that board members be more involved in the budgeting process, Newsome abstained.

“I don’t feel comfortable (voting on budget decisions) when we’ve not discussed it,” Newsome said. “I hope somewhere down the line (budgeting without school board participation) will stop being the norm.”

Board members defended the importance of educational services to attendees at a July 5 public hearing on the budget. Some vocal attendees at the hearing questioned the cost of a $10,858-per-pupil budget.

4 Hill recommended the district participate this year in a state pilot program that evaluates school principals.

Hill said principals in all districts in the state would be evaluated using the new model by the 2013-2014 school year.

“(Participating this year) will give us an opportunity to be exposed and stick our feet out there to say what it is we can expect from the new (evaluation) tool,” Hill said.

Hill said an interesting aspect of the new evaluation model is that 50 percent of the evaluation is based on student performance.

He said some administrators in the state were reluctant to be evaluated with the new tool, but he thought it was best to volunteer before the model was forced on the district.

“Whether we like it or not, (the new model) is coming,” Hill said.

Newsome said she hoped the evaluation would provide useful information.

Blalock agreed with the recommendation, saying it’s always best to be proactive rather than reactive.

“There’s wisdom in doing what Dr. Hill is recommending,” Blalock said.

The board voted unanimously to participate in the pilot evaluation service.