NASD back to where it started with staffing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 1, 2016

NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams School District offered jobs to 17 people Tuesday, but 17 members of the existing staff recently did not renew their contracts or resigned.

Interim Superintendent Fred Butcher said at a special meeting of the school board that the system is right back where it started with needing approximately 60 positions filled district wide. Of that number, 45 of the positions are teachers or other certified staff.

“We are at a standstill,” Butcher said. “Over the next two weeks, everyone will be on the phone making contacts. After the month of June, it is going to be very difficult to find personnel then.”

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Board President Amos James said he had a concern after looking at the comments of those who resigned.

“Most of them list student behavior,” he said. “We need to put something in action.”

Butcher said he agreed students disrupting class was a large reason for low morale among teachers in the district.

One method he was looking at was proposing stronger policies toward sending disruptive children to alternative schools. Butcher also said the district needed to stress student discipline to principals, and that would be a topic at the administrative retreat this summer in Natchez.

Board Secretary Thelma Newsome said the district also needed to work better with parents of disruptive children.

“A lot of the time, parents don’t understand the impact a misbehaving child has on a classroom setting,” she said. “If we look at doing something with parents of children who are repeat offenders, and find out what’s going on with the child or children, that might help.”

Butcher said 95 percent of the children in the district behave well and 80 percent of the parents in the district will do anything asked of them.

“It’s that 5 percent we are constantly on,” he said. “We need to make sure we are disciplining these behaviors when the children are in third, fourth and fifth grade because that behavior is only going to get worse as they go up the line. And eventually they become a dropout risk.”

Board member Phillip West said the district needs to do a better job understanding the situation some of these children face, with parents who might be working two to three jobs.

“The more information you have on any particular individual about where they are coming from, the better chance you have to help improve their behavior,” he said. “I think all of us are born with a certain amount of positive ability, and it’s largely our environment that helps contribute to which direction we go. That also contributes to the dropout rate and ultimately contributes to crime.”

McLaurin Elementary has the most vacancies listed with six, but Morgantown Arts Academy, Natchez High School, Natchez Freshman Academy and the Braden Administrative Building are each down five certified staff members. Morgantown Leadership Academy is down four certified staff members. Fallin Career and Technology Center is the only school fully staffed.

In other news, the board unanimously approved putting out bids for two mobile classrooms for West Elementary School, which was having trouble finding room for all of its students during testing time.

The anticipated cost of the buildings is $200,000 and the estimated date of installation is Sept. 20.

4Natchez High School extended summer school staff will receive a raise for the work done over the term. Site administrators will be bumped up from $175 per day to $200 per day, certified teachers will receive a raise from $22 per hour to $32 per hour and classified paraprofessionals, or teacher assistants, will be raised from $15 per hour to $20 per hour. Summer school begins June 1 and runs until July 13.