° empty

Will state take over Morgantown Middle School?

NATCHEZ — Natchez-Adams School District Superintendent Frederick Hill will travel to Jackson a week from today to find out if and when the Mississippi Department of Education might take over Morgantown Middle School.

State legislation passed in 2010 requires MDE to administer the new start school program for schools that are failing for three consecutive years beginning with the results from the 2009-2010 school year.

Morgantown Middle School, Hill said, is in its third year of having an F rating.

“If we don’t turn around Morgantown, it can be taken over,” Hill told school board members Tuesday afternoon. “We need to look at drastic measures of reforms at the middle school and at the high school because the high school is only one year away from being where Morgantown is now.”

Hill said part of the law also states that districts can request an additional year to turn the school around to avoid state takeover.

“That’s what we plan on doing if possible and that’s what this meeting is for — to give us all the information about the process and that additional year,” Hill said. “If we get that year, we need to go in and change the entire structure of Morgantown and Natchez High School.

“They’ll still be there as a school, but it will not resemble anything it has been in the past.”

Hill detailed a number of educational models and initiatives, such as smaller learning communities and schools within schools, he thought might be beneficial for the district to improve.

“I’m not here to sell any of this, but these are some measures that have seen results,” Hill said. “We have to make some changes.”

Hill also associated similar models and programs he’s had success with during his tenure as an education administrator.

A program Hill said worked well in the Tupelo Public School District was a school aged mothers program, which was a volunteer program that offered certain resources for those students with children.

“All of these ideas came from having dialogue with students, parents and community members about what was keeping Tupelo from being a high performing school district,” Hill said. “These are the things we need to find out for our district before the state says, ‘We’re going to correct it for you.’”

Board president Wayne Barnett said ensuring the state department doesn’t take over any schools in the district isn’t necessarily the board’s main goal.

“It’s not that we want to impress the state department not to take over, but our concern is to make sure that every kid in Adams County is getting a decent education,” Barnett said. “Whatever we need to put in place, we need to put in place.”

Hill said he would travel to Jackson Oct. 9 to meet with Interim State Superintendent of Education Lynn House and other MDE officials.