Special to the Chickasaw Journal
OKOLONA -- Okolona Municipal Separate School District School Board extended the superintendent’s contract for three year and approved his salary.
Trustees approved a three-year contract agreement with Dexter Green to serve as Superintendent of Education in the Okolona Municipal Separate School District commencing on July 1, 2016 and ending on June 30, 2019 with an annual salary of $95,985.43.
Green was a principal with Tunica County Schools and a 23-year veteran educator when he was hired by Okolona as their new superintendent in March 2013.
Green was noted for taking a poor performing elementary school and helping them earn both state and national academic honors. Green was also touted for his ability to bring people together during his interview.
The Okolona district went into conservatorship in February 2010 due to poor academic rankings and financial instability. The school board was dissolved and the superintendents’ post vacated when a state conservator was named.
Green has pushed hard for higher test scores at all grade levels and to reduce Okolona's drop-out rate and improve its graduation rate.
The Okolona School District was among several Northeast Mississippi school districts which placed in the top 25 districts statewide in percentages of students scoring at a Level 4 or higher on at least one test.
Green said he was thoroughly impressed with students and teachers in third grade mathematics, fourth grade mathematics, eighth grade science, and Biology I that exceeded the state average on State exams.
Trustees said the MDE District and school accountability results will be released in 90 days following the validation results due to significant scoring errors by the Dynamic Learning Maps vendor. Accountability results had been scheduled for release in late January.
The DLM program, now in use in several states, is funded by a research grant through Kansas University.
According to the group’s website, Neal Kingston, a KU professor of psychology and education research, and his colleagues are developing a new system for state education departments for measuring the progress of students with cognitive disabilities.
The project is called Dynamic Learning Maps. It's a computer program that essentially visualizes all the things a student should learn, in successive order, in English language arts and math.
It orders it all like a massive road map, displaying different paths a student can take to learn a skill, such as understanding what an emotion is and building up to why a character in a text would feel a certain emotion.
If a student is having trouble learning a skill, the map allows teachers to track back and identify a gap in the student's knowledge that blocks him or her from advancing,according to published reports.
In other business:
• Recognized Sandra Murray, third grade math, and Linda Cousins, fourth grade math, with awards for their students exceeding state averages on recent state tests.
• Approved hiring Arial Eddie as a teacher assistant at Okolona High School to provide special services for 93 days at $80.21 per day, which totals $7,459.53 with a starting date of Jan. 7, 2016 for the remainder of SY 15-16 with a $15,000 prorated salary.
• Approved mileage reimbursement for state officers and employees traveling on official business in their private automobile at 54 cents per mile.
• Accepted a quote from Hayden Electric for $1,295 to repair a heater unit in Room 3 at Okolona Vocational Center using Series 2015 Obligation School Bonds.
• Approved an external partner contract with North Mississippi Educational Services, LLC to perform psychological/educational evaluations for possible special education and gifted students not to exceed $500 per day.
• Approved disposing of old air conditioner equipment.
• Approved advertising to accept bids for removal of old heating and air conditioning equipment for scrap metal.
• Approved the Title VI Application for FY16.
• Accepted a quote from M & T Mechanical Contractors, LLC for $9,084.00 to replace approximately 460 ft. of existing 4” terracotta sanitary sewer piping at Okolona Elementary using Series 2015 Obligation School Bonds.
• Approved hiring Willie Gathings as a part-time maintenance employee as needed at a pay rate of $10 per hour working from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily beginning Monday, Dec. 21, 2015 and ending Monday, Feb. 29, 2016.
• Approved the Okolona School District Occupational Safety and Crisis Response Plan for school year 2015-2016.
• Approved the Okolona School District Hiring policy.
• Appointed School Board Officers for 2016 calendar year: Dr. Jerome Smith- President, William Bailey- Vice-President, Sarah Jenkins- Secretary, and William Bill Stewart- Assistant Secretary.
• Heard Principal Action Plan Reports from Okolona High School and Okolona Elementary.
• Heard the Superintendent’s Report, and the Superintendent’s Newsletter for January 2016.
• Heard the Average Daily Attendance Reports as follows: Okolona Elementary, 97.32 percent; and Okolona High School, 95.22 percent.
• Heard Accelerated Reader Reports, District-wide Indicators of Success for 2014-2015, and District Cumulative Testing Data for the 2nd Nine Weeks period.
• Said a School Board work session was held Monday, Jan. 11, in the Office of the Superintendent. No action was taken during School Board Work Session. The following trustees were present: Dr. Smith, Mr. Bailey, Dr. Gandy, Mrs. Jenkins and Mr. Stewart. The School Board work session adjourned at 10:50 a.m.
• Set the next School Board work session is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 at 9 a.m. in the Office of the Superintendent.
• Said the next regularly called School Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 6 p.m. at the Okolona Vocational Center.
• Said The Okolona School District was selected for an unannounced MDE Office of Accreditation random site visit on Jan. 12-13, 2016. School Board Trustees were asked to bring copies of MSBA Continuing Education Certificates to a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016.
• Said a School Board meeting schedule with Mr. Phillips with MDE will be held as follows: Bill Stewart 9-10 a.m., William Bailey 10-11a.m., Mrs. Sarah Jenkins 11 a.m.-noon, Dr. Jerome Smith noon-1p.m., and Dr. Fred Gandy 1-2 p.m.
• Met with the Business Department Manager and reviewed the claims docket, the current budget status, reconciled bank statements, heard a statement of revenues and expenditures, reviewed a cash flow statement by month, and reviewed a combined balance sheet.