Edney: School system not in ‘dying situation’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Strong public schools require strong community commitment, Dr. Norris Edney told city officials Tuesday in an informal presentation.

&uot;Our school system is not in the stressful, dire, dying situation we’ve read about in the paper,&uot; said Edney, a member of the Natchez-Adams Public School District board of trustees.

Are there problems in the system? Certainly, he said, as he outlined some of the controversial issues and possible solutions.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;I think how we work together is a problem. The board has argued a lot. But I think we’re facing problems more directly than ever before,&uot; he said.

In fact, the board is preparing goals and objectives for the next two years, starting with the budget. &uot;I’m saying we’ll have a balanced budget this year. We have to start living within our revenue this year.&uot;

Other areas of concern, he said, are:

Changing learning and education results.

Physical condition of the school system.

Human resources.

Community involvement.

&uot;Our system has been rated a ‘3’ for a number of years,&uot; Edney said. &uot;That is tolerable, but we have to consider changing our status. As far as tests are concerned, we are judged by those and we have to win that game. Can we bring the masses to a sharper peak?&uot;

Everyone should be concerned that improvements occur in every school, he said. &uot;That is a goal for the next two to three years. All of us are concerned that we have not toed the mark. And it’s the children we ought to be concerned about.&uot;

Edney fears the community has judged the school system without being involved enough in public education.

&uot;Everybody, including this board, has to be involved,&uot; he said. &uot;If you on this board won’t be involved, who will?&uot;

City officials responded with questions about parent-teacher involvement, neighborhood schools, top-heavy administration and outreach programs.

Alderman James &uot;Ricky&uot; Gray said parent participation seemed to fall off as students entered higher grades. &uot;In the lower grades, there is more parent participation, and in the middle and high school years it drops off,&uot; he said. &uot;That’s a major problem. Parents ought to be more involved then.&uot;

Alderman David Massey said neighborhood schools would bring more students back into public schools from private ones and would address some of the so-called white flight into private and parochial schools.

Edney said the observation about having a system with too many positions at the top is a legitimate one. &uot;I don’t see any movement by the board to change that. But I hope we can cut that some.&uot;

Alderwoman Sue Stedman said a strong public school system is critical to the community. &uot;We don’t have 10 years down the road,&uot; she said. &uot;When you fail to educate a child, it’s like giving him a life sentence.&uot;

Edney agreed. &uot;Kids have lots of options,&uot; he said. &uot;But I don’t think failure is one of them.&uot;