School board questions equipment

Published 12:29 am Friday, May 13, 2011

NATCHEZ — Board members asked the Natchez Adams School District administration at Thursday’s meeting to find out who is dropping the ball on ordering equipment in order to figure out why schools are not receiving resources sooner.

School Board president Harold Barnett brought up the issue when he learned a purchase order for a reading intervention program at Robert Lewis Middle School took approximately three months to be presented to the board for approval.

Since the school year is nearly over, Barnett said those students will not benefit from the supplies, which are paid for with school improvement grant funds.

Email newsletter signup

“(Students) have lost the use of $22,000 of (supplies) for this year,” Barnett said.

Newsome agreed with Barnett, and reminded the board and administration that the district lost thousands last year from 21st Century grant funds for failing to order equipment on time.

“We need to find a better way of getting material when (schools) need it,” Newsome said.

Board member Dr. Benny Wright brought up a similar issue relating to Promethean boards.

Wright said he surveyed principals and teachers about the effectiveness of Promethean boards. He said he found a lack of communication on the issue existed between the schools and the administration at the Braden office.

Wright said the administration said the district had 113 Promethean boards, which is 26 more than the count of boards he was told when polling the principals.

Some of the boards are on back order, Wright said he learned. But the principals were never told by administration the boards were on back order, making them out of the loop of the status of the equipment, Wright said.

“Principals are not clear why ordered equipment is not (delivered) on time. There is poor communication,” Wright said.

“If (the boards) are back ordered, then tell the principal.”

Wright said the amount of training teachers received for Promethean boards was inconsistent among the schools.

He said he gathered that the principals and teachers love the Promethean boards, but teachers need more training and resources to use them in some cases.

Based on Wright’s survey, teachers who had more training considered themselves more proficient with the boards.

However, Natchez High School teachers had an average of 16 hours of training, and most other schools tended to have less than five hours of training on average, Wright said.

“As of March 10, (the district) has spent $530,000 on Prometheans. We (need to) make every effort to make a return on that investment,” Wright said.

Wright ended his report on Promethean boards with some questions.

“Why the disparity of numbers (of boards) in each school? Can Title One monies be used for more boards or additional training? Can we develop testing instruments to evaluate each teachers’ skill?” Wright said.

District Superintendent Anthony Morris said he had never seen the data Wright compiled and requested a copy, to which Wright agreed.

Wright also questioned administration and staff at Natchez High School about track equipment.

He said the district bought new hurdles, which are left outside in the sun rather than stored indoors, causing them damage.

He said the school also has an inefficient timer system at the track field, which might be because of the lack of proper operation.

“We need better stewardship of equipment and to protect our investment,” Wright said.

Board member David Troutman, who is also a teacher in Concordia Parish, thanked the school district at the meeting for offering shelter and coordinating plans with the parish in case of a flood evacuation.

“I want to thank NASD for working with Concordia to offer busses and evacuation facilities. It makes me feel comfortable.”