Meeting held on Ferriday’s new school hours

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 14, 2004

FERRIDAY &045;&045; Parents were invited to bring concerns about the extended school day to a meeting at Ferriday Junior High Wednesday night, and many people had opinions to express.

&uot;We would like to hear your concerns,&uot; said Dorothy Parker, principal of Ferriday Junior High.

All Ferriday schools will start an extended school day or after-school tutoring program next Tuesday that will last 90 minutes after school. This time will be used to prepare students for the LEAP and IOWA tests in March. Students will learn skills to supplement their daily education, such as test-taking skills.

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Students will be fed snacks and buses will take students home after the tutoring, Tuesday through Thursdays, until testing time. Also,

homework will be given during the weeks of extended school hours.

&uot;We would not be doing this if we were not in an important situation,&uot; Superintendent Kerry Laster told parents. Three of the four Ferriday schools, excluding Ferriday High School, are in school improvement, meaning they did not meet state standards in some area. If the schools do not improve after testing this year, they can be moved to the second level of school improvement where outside help must come into the district.

Parents expressed concerns that children would be tired by the end of the extended day, it would be late when they arrived home and asked when students would have time for sports.

Parent Delores Banks, with children at both Ferriday Upper Elementary and Ferriday Junior High, said many children stay late for basketball and other sports practices.

Sports &uot;won’t help our children if they can’t pass a test,&uot; Banks said.

Parents of successful students believe their students don’t need tutoring. &uot;Our hope is if your child is making the principal’s list or honor roll, we can move then from one level to the next level,&uot; Parker said. Added Laster; &uot;Your child is the child we really want to help,&uot; she told a parent with this concern.

&uot;We hope the extra we give those kinds of kids will give them the edge.&uot;

And those children, Laster said, can help boost each school’s school performance score to help the school come out of school improvement.

&uot;Will you just give it a chance?&uot; Laster asked parents Wednesday night.

School board member Johnnie Brown said he did not favor this system because of the problems they would incur, interfering with other school activities and because the parents were not involved in the decision, a complaint parents had as well.

&uot;There comes a time in life where you might not like what is done … but you have to do what needs to be done,&uot; said Fred Butcher, director of academic affairs for the district. &uot;Afternoon tutoring is not the best thing in the world. It was not what we did during the school day but after-school tutoring that got Ferriday Junior High (and Ferriday High) out of the woods.&uot;

Last year, Ferriday High School needed 14 points to come out from the state watch list and it improved 24, a jump Butcher, who was principal then, attributes to the dedication of the teachers and students and after-school tutoring.

&uot;It’s a proven fact &045;&045; those students that attended after-school tutoring, those students achieved very well on the tests,&uot; Butcher said. Parents and Brown also questioned why Ferriday schools had after-school tutoring and Vidalia High School, which is also in school improvement, is tutoring during the school day.

Butcher said the parents cannot compare Vidalia and Ferriday because even as students enter school, kindergartners in Ferriday already are five, 10 or 20 points behind those in Vidalia. Butcher asked the parents to back the school district and the decision to use the after-school tutoring to improve test scores.

&uot;We have your children’s best interest at heart,&uot; he said.

&uot;Let’s give it a chance.&uot;