NASD approves new visitation policy

Published 12:01 am Friday, November 13, 2015

NATCHEZ — Children in the Natchez-Adams School District will be able to see more of their parents at school after the Thursday night board meeting.

The new NASD visitation policy passed 5-0 with Board Member Thelma Newsome motioning to approve and Vice-president Benny Wright seconding.

The new policy replaces one that proved unpopular with some parents by barring visits during instructional time.

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“Been pretty contentious recently,” Board President Timothy Blalock Jr. said. “I see it’s been modified slightly.”

The approved version differs from the draft version initially posted online for review.

Some changes included removing the language explicitly forbidding grandparents from visiting. Instead, the language forbids non-custodial adults.

Superintendent Frederick Hill said this was not the final version of the policy and more work would be done in the future.

“There are other stipulations that we need to consider,” Hill said.

But Hill said he wanted the policy approved at the meeting so it could go back to the community.

“I didn’t want it to sit for another 30 days,” Hill said after the meeting.

Also after the meeting, Blalock said the policy should go into effect immediately. The policy should be able to be found at a school’s front office and on the website, Blalock said.

In other news:

-Public Relations Coordinator Steven Richardson released the results of an NASD employee survey. Hill said a perception existed that teachers were running away from the district, but the numbers told a different story.

“We have allowed a handful of people to hijack the perception of our district,” Hill said.

Of the approximately 600 people employed by NASD, 290 took the anonymous survey. The majority of them were teachers.

Of those surveyed, approximately 50 percent said they strongly agree that they feel encouraged to come up with new and better ways of doing things.

When asked how motivated they were to see the district succeed, more than 80 percent said they were very motivated.

“Are motivation and morale congruent to each other?” Hill said.

“I would say so,” Richardson said.

Some other questions required short answer responses. Employees asked for things such as YouTube access for instructional materials and more technology.

Suggestions for the district also included more ACT prep, better ways to report issues, cutting down on testing and financial and safety suggestions.

-Hill announced he received an email from the Assistant State Literacy Coordinator for K-3. The Mississippi Department of Education is collaborating with the American Institutes for Research to gather anecdotal accounts for a white paper detailing the implementation of the Literacy-Based Promotions Act.

MDE wanted to highlight the literacy efforts of NASD and Susie B. West Elementary School by visiting and interviewing staff on Wednesday.

-The board listened to a report on Joseph L. Frazier Elementary School, Natchez High School and the Old Washington School’s facilities by Volkert Inc., a Mobile, Ala, based, a consulting firm hired to provide a facilities assessment for the district.

The company discussed measures to improve and upgrade NHS and Frazier’s facilities, as well as install additional safety equipment. Options were presented for both renovations and building new schools.

The estimated cost to renovate Frazier was approximately $11 million while the estimated cost to renovate NHS was approximately $23 million.

The estimate to construct a school to replace Frazier was approximately $17 million while the cost to replace NHS was approximately $42 million. Neither cost included the price of land.

The cost to renovate Washington was approximately $5 million.

A potential course of action for thewas for it to for possible future use. The possible renovation toe to the district4 Board members also voted to approve a one-year timber contract with Good Hope, Inc. and voted to seek legal counsel on the correct response to a possible violation on Sixteenth Section public school trust land.

The request was in response to a report that a lessee had cleared and planted grass on an area meant as forest land.

The plan details matters including how to keep test data and materials secure and testing procedures. for possible future or leaving employees of vacancies in the district4 Members of the NHS women’s basketball team were presented with letterman jackets, financed by United Mississippi Bank.

At the end of the meeting, the board went into executive session to discuss an expulsion, a student appeal, a legal update, a litigation update and one hunting and fishing lease issue.

The motion to go into executive session was made by Newsome, seconded by Wright and passed unanimously.