Board of Education expected to suspend ratings system

Published 11:21 am Friday, April 18, 2008

JACKSON (AP) — State Board of Education members gathered Friday for anticipated votes to suspend a ratings system that gauges school performance and to take over the troubled North Panola School District.

Board member Charlie McClelland believes the board will vote in favor of both proposals.

“I would be surprised if it is not an unanimous vote,” he said.

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State officials proposed freezing the ratings system to give schools time to prepare for more difficult coursework and tests.

“It would only be fair to the districts to give them a grace period,” McClelland said.

The ratings system ranks schools based on performance from Level 1, or low performing, to Level 5, or superior. The North Panola district has two Level 1 and two Level 2 schools and the board is considering taking over the district as a last resort to help those schools.

Bob Strebeck, who headed the state takeover of the Jefferson Davis County School District last year, is the Education Department’s choice to run the North Panola district.

State Superintendent Hank Bounds and North Panola Superintendent Lucinda Carter clashed Thursday during the debate.

Carter said the district wouldn’t need such a drastic measure had Bounds’ department given more help when problems were identified last year.

“We asked for technical assistance and we received none,” Carter said.

Bounds took issue with Carter’s statement.

“We have had a very difficult time getting reports back,” Bounds said. “We have provided an unbelievable amount of technical assistance, we have had people there constantly. And to say that there has been no help from the department is simply not factual.”