NASD opens restructuring doors

Published 12:08 am Monday, March 10, 2014

NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams School District will host a town hall meeting next week to discuss plans to restructure two schools and provide performance data on each school.

The town hall meeting is one of many NASD Superintendent Frederick Hill implemented when he took over the district in 2012 to keep parents and community members in the loop regarding district and school activity.

The town hall meeting will be at 6 p.m. March 18 in the Natchez High School auditorium.

Email newsletter signup

Hill will seek input on a preliminary proposal to restructure the district’s middle and high schools into smaller learning communities.

The proposal includes establishing three smaller learning communities for students: middle school academies, an early college model and a career academy.

Hill said he’s met with teachers and staff at the various schools as well as community members who have all provided positive feedback on the suggested changes.

“Everybody knows we have to do something, so everyone has really been in full support of the changes,” Hill said. “What I want to do though is speak to the parents because they’re the ones who will be a big part of some of the changes.”

The changes are structured around the idea of smaller classes and more personal teacher instruction with students.

A middle school academy would serve as a school within a school at Morgantown Middle School and would feature three academies or focuses of study: leadership, arts or college prep.

Students in grades six through eight would pick a specific academy at the beginning of the year, but could switch at the end of the year if they wanted.

The early college model would enroll 100 students and offer them a mixture of high school and college classes with the goal of taking advanced courses during their ninth and 10th grade years before moving on to dual-enrollment classes during their 11th and 12th grade years.

The model would allow a student to finish the program with a high-school diploma and an associate degree or up to two years of college credit.

The career academy would restructure the Fallin Career and Technology Center and offer students entering in ninth grade a three- or four-year program.

Parents would help students pick the different programs to attend, as well as focus of study.

“The parents are really going to be crucial in all of this, so we want them to know what’s going on,” Hill said. “If not, I’m going to send a specific invitation to middle and high school parents to arrange something that way.”

Hill said he plans to take comments from the town hall meeting and finalize the proposed changes to present to the school board in April.

The changes would go into effect after board approval and be implemented for students at the start of the 2014-2015 school year in August.

“I’m hoping to just get as much feedback as possible — either confirmation we’re doing the right thing or suggestions on what to do,” Hill said. “No major changes have been offered so far, and everyone has been in agreement with the proposal.”

Hill said he will also present performance data from each individual school in the district on nine-week assessments taken by students.

Part of the assessments are designed to be a predictor for how students will perform on upcoming state tests in May.

Hill said he will first present the data to the school board Thursday during its regular meeting.

“I’m not pleased (with the results), but it’s better,” Hill said.

“The middle school and high school still need some work.

“But as far as the elementary schools are concerned, they are on the up and up and their data is looking good.”