McLaurin, West earn Barksdale grant funding

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 6, 2001

NATCHEZ – Two more schools in Natchez-Adams County will benefit from a statewide effort to improve student reading skills.

On Friday, district officials learned that McLaurin Elementary School and West Primary School will join Morgantown Elementary School and Frazier Primary School in receiving funding from the Barksdale Reading Institute.

&uot;We’re completely a Barksdale district,&uot; said Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis.

Netscape Chief James Barksdale and his wife, Sally set up the Barksdale Reading Institute last year with a $100 million donation. The program is designed to boast reading skills for students in prekindergarten to third-grade.

The three year program trains teachers to improve reading skills by assessing each child’s weaknesses. It also involves parents and after-school tutoring.

Morgantown Elementary School and Frazier Primary School were selected for the program in 2000.

Davis thinks a successful first year at those two schools might have assisted the expansion of the program in Natchez.

Carrie Cupit, principal at West Primary School, said she was surprised her school received the grant because they had to wait so long to hear the news.

&uot;I think we had to wait the longest because (Barksdale officials) were trying to determine needs based on states scores across the state,&uot; Cupit said.

The Barksdale Reading Institute looks at tests scores when deciding where to allocate funding.

Cupit thinks the program will serve its purpose of helping students become better readers.

&uot;I think it will improve reading across the board,&uot; Cupit said. &uot;That’s the whole structure of the grant.&uot;

McLaurin Elementary School and West Primary School asked for about $219,000 in funding this year but the final amount the schools will receive has not yet been finalized, Davis said.

Morgantown Elementary School and Fraizer Primary School received about $209,000 during their first year of Barksdale funding after only asking for about $192,000 so district officials are hoping that McLaurin Elementary School and West Primary School will get as least as much as they requested.

Morgantown Elementary School and Frazier Primary School are in the process of applying for their second year of funding, Davis said.

&uot;I feel good that we’ll get it back at those two schools too,&uot; Davis said.

Dr. Charlotte Franklin, principal at McLaurin Elementary School, could not be reached for comment Friday.