Natchez visit vital for NASD teacher recruiting

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, February 4, 2014

NATCHEZ — The key to recruiting new teaching talent to the Natchez-Adams County School District is to make sure they see the community first.

That was part of the message NASD Superintendent Frederick Hill brought to the Adams County Board of Supervisors Monday.

Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said Hill was invited to update the board about the school district since the supervisors are the body that officially levies taxes for the school system.

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Monetary incentives to recruit new teachers to the area have not paid off as well as he would have hoped, Hill said, but bringing new teachers to the area is effective in getting them to commit to come.

“When we go to recruiting events, you are going to have Natchez, Gulfport, Biloxi and Desoto county there, and all of those schools have a lot to offer young, up-and-coming teachers out of college,” he said. “We have to get those students to Natchez to visit. It is the initial contact, getting them to Natchez, because we are competing with cities that have things for young teachers to do.”

The second issue is the fact that two NASD schools — Morgantown Middle School and Natchez High School — face state takeover if their school accountability scores are rated “failing” for a third year in a row this year. The takeover would happen in September if the schools fail this year.

In the event of state takeover, all personnel — “principals, teachers, custodial staff and cafeteria workers,” Hill said — will be subject to termination, though teachers who are identified as being effective classroom leaders may be rehired.

Hill said he ultimately believes the district will pull through with a “D” rating on a scale of A to F this year, but recruiting during the interim period is difficult.

“Somebody could be hired today, and in September they could receive that notice that they were terminated and they had absolutely nothing to do with the performance of those schools,” Hill said. “That will be the catch, trying to convince someone they are going to be OK. That is going to be hard.”

Hill also discussed the district’s community involvement and reading initiatives, as well as efforts to increase graduation rates, which have been successful for the last two years.

Likewise, Hill said in the long term the district will need to redesign its philosophy of education “based not on what we have, but what is needed.”

“We need to design schools around children’s needs,” he said. “Part of our culture is to make sure we offer opportunities for students.”

Those redesigns could include offering more vocational classes — Hill mentioned a cosmetology program — and classes in the evenings for students who need to work during the day.

In other news:

• The supervisors officially ratified a proclamation of a state of emergency for the multi-day snow and ice event last week.

Having the proclamation in place may allow the county to receive federal reimbursement for some expenditures made in response to the event.

• The board adopted a marketing plan for the HOME program.

The HOME program is a grant program that replaces residences in need of serious repair with a new structure at no cost to the homeowner. To qualify, the homeowner must own the property, be able to prove they have lived at the residence for at least six months and not owe any liens or taxes on the property.

Lynette West with the Southwest Mississippi Planning and Development District said applications are due Feb. 20, but SWMPDD would like to have all applications in this week.

The county needs at least two applications to participate in the program, West said, and thus far has one.

For more information, West can be contacted at 601-446-6044.