Magnet program: Learning from the predecessors

Published 12:20am Monday, February 11, 2013

NATCHEZ — School district officials hope to take a page from the books of successful magnet programs in the region to help with the implementation of a proposed magnet program at the former Robert Lewis Middle School.

Natchez-Adams School District Superintendent Frederick Hill and other district officials will visit magnet programs in Columbus and Alpine, Ala., today and Tuesday to observe the programs and curriculum used within those schools.

The goal of the trip, Hill said, is to learn from those schools’ successes and begin crafting a more concrete plan to open a magnet program with a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics by the 2013-2014 school year.

“I actually visited the school in Alabama when I was at the Tupelo School District, and that school has proven to be a successful school that I think we can learn a lot from,” Hill said. “I wanted to take a group of people from our district so they could see what I’ve already seen and hopefully get some more insight on what we could potentially have here in town with our program.”

Part of the NASD Board of Trustees vote last year to reorganize the entire district included closing RLMS for the 2012-2013 school year for renovations.

The trip to visit other schools was part of a plan the board entrusted to Hill when he was hired in July.

That plan includes everything from advertising for bids for contractors for repairs to creating a steering committee to seek input on the program’s future.

Hill said he hopes to bring that plan before the board in February or March to get final approval to move full speed ahead with the magnet program implementation.

The information they gather on the trip this week, Hill said, will be essential to that plan.

“These schools have a similar setup and demographics as Natchez, so that’s going to be helpful in seeing what works and what doesn’t work for them,” Hill said. “The schools are very intense and in-depth about what they show you, so we’re hoping to bring back a lot of good, useful information.”

The group will travel to Winterboro High School in Alpine, Ala., and six different schools within the Columbus Municipal School District in Columbus before returning Tuesday night.

The estimated cost of the trip for two vehicles logging 840 miles each, 11 hotel rooms for two nights and food for three days for each person is $4,838.

The board, at a specially called meeting Jan. 24, approved that amount. An amendment was added stating any school board members, in addition to Thelma Newsome — who was already scheduled to travel with the group — could also attend.





  • Anonymous

    Wow, putting together a magnet school at a location requiring major modification remodeling by next September when minor modifications for this school year haven’t been completed in mid February since the idea of restructuring started last May. Examples are McLaurin playground equipment not in place, Morgantown gym floor just completed, West portables still unoccupied and lack of a gym, Frazier lack of a gym, etc. Someone really needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Get real and quit romancing the public with fantasy ideas that can’t be implemented timely. Maybe a five year plan in place with specific steps to achieve the long term goal with dwindling funds? Then, of course, a longer term plan to replace the ancient building infrastructure that is all over 50 years old would be nice to focus those goals. There has been talk about the need to repair RLMS since last summer, and I don’t think anyone has turned a lock there since.