Monroe County School District Assistant Superintendent Shelly Collums listens as assistant superintendent Kevin Threadgill, center, reads bids for hunting and fishing rentals for the district's 16th Section lands while business manager Tyler Freeman tabulates the results.

AMORY – The Monroe County School Board gave its full support April 13 for the possibility of offering work-based learning opportunities for students through the Monroe County Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center.

Monroe County Superintendent of Education Brian Jernigan recently attended a Mississippi Department of Education meeting regarding the possibility of workplace learning.

“MDE is making it available if we can fit it in for next year. The logistics of it are still up in the air. Before we can even ask for an application on this, the board has to vote to include workplace learning credit-bearing courses in students’ class schedules. If a student has a job that is connected to their interest inventory (taken by every seventh-grade student), they can work and get credit hours that would also meet the college- and career-readiness credits necessary for juniors and seniors,” he said.

The school district will evaluate availability of staff necessary to offer the program and hopes to be able to offer it to qualifying students for next school year.

“It opened a lot of doors for me,” said school board president Linda Bickerstaff in reference to her personal experience with co-op programs in the past.

Jernigan elaborated further on the details involved.

“It would involve having a teacher of record acting as a facilitator that would check in with these kids,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out if this would be operated out of the CTE center because this will be a CTE program.

The school board approved for Jernigan to pursue the learning option as an elective for CTE students for the 2021-22 school year.

In other business, Jernigan recommended that dual-credit courses be offered again next year in collaboration with Itawamba Community College. The dual-credit courses with Delta State University are being discontinued due to continually rising costs.

“We went to DSU several years ago because they were offering courses at half the cost of ICC. Since then, they have constantly increased (tuition), as well as requiring an application fee and transcript fees to transfer credits. We’re thinking strictly what would be better for our kids,” he said.

Jernigan also updated the school board on plans to involve virtual education as an option for students if circumstances make it necessary.

“Our plans are still preliminary at this point because we’re still waiting on MDE on additional requirements on attendance reporting. Our administrators and teachers favor doing virtual in the event of documented medical needs, closure of schools due to weather or pandemic. We have some requests (for continuing with virtual learning) simply for being absent, but unless you are set up for it, that would not be possible. It would increase our absenteeism numbers,” he said.

Jernigan recommended continuing to have learning methods in place which include synchronous, virtual and in-person, asynchronous with digital learning, as well as asynchronous with printed packets.

“It would depend on the situation,” he said.

Jernigan also reported on summer intervention programs being set up to help students who have fallen behind during the school year due to extended absences. He discussed several options with the board for summer intervention, but specific plans have not been decided at this time.

Jernigan also explained infrastructure initiatives for schools, which include evaluation of HVAC systems and windows replacements which will be conducted by a consulting architectural firm.

He added there’s a delay in planned upgrades and replacement of awnings and canopies at Hatley Attendance Center due to supply issues for metal. Existing canopies will be refurbished this summer in hopes of having sufficient material accumulated for replacement by summer 2022.

Assistant superintendent Kevin Threadgill opened bids for hunting and fishing permits on the district’s 16th Section lands. The school board approved the high bids received, although some will need to be verified as coming from an individual or a group such as a hunting and fishing club. He said one tract of land received no bids and will have to be readvertised.

“We want to do our due diligence so as not to appear selective,” Jernigan said.

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