District gets vote of confidence from community

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 30, 2005

VIDALIA &8212; A very negative label showed Ferriday administrators they had a positive vote of confidence from the community.

Of hundreds eligible, less than 20 parents originally chose to remove their students from the &8220;academically unacceptable&8221; Ferriday schools. That number dwindled to less than 10 who ever attended another school. And now, most of those 10 have returned to Ferriday.

&8220;I was amazed we had as few as we did,&8221; Superintendent Kerry Laster said last week. &8220;It just sends a message that they are willing to stay at their home schools and give them a chance to try and make it work.&8221;

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Despite the label, all three Ferriday schools did show growth last year, just not at the required rate.

When the district presented school choice options, principals asked parents to leave their children where they were and promised more growth would come.

Laster said because those children who chose another school were arriving late and leaving early each day, they were loosing educational time they&8217;d be getting in Ferriday.

And, because of the label, the three Ferriday schools are getting about $20,000 extra dollars on top of regular funding, receive regular visits from personnel at the Regional Service Center and get extra special attention from the district personnel.

&8220;I think it makes you really reexamine things,&8221; Laster said. &8220;We had a team go in and look at the schools so we know what the weaknesses are &8212; though I think we already knew &8212; it brings things to light. They&8217;ve got the money and we are trying to focus professional development.&8221;