Saturday, September 05, 2015
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The Tunica Times • P.O. Box 308/986 Magnolia Street, Tunica, MS 38676

School district receives state’s audit report

The Tunica County School District has until June 12 to respond in writing to a preliminary report issued by the State Department of Education and presented at the May 13 Board of Education meeting.

Dr. Paula Vanderford, Executive Director of the Office of Accreditation within the Mississippi Department of Education, and Pat Ross, MDE’s Chief School Performance Officer, hand delivered the report last week to Superintendent Steve Chandler and four of the five school board members. Board member Delois Henderson-Hardiman participated in the meeting by phone.

The report – preliminary until the local district has the opportunity to refute the report or any part of it – contains findings of an investigative audit conducted here in February and March.

Ross read aloud the report’s Executive Summary:

Based on a series of complaints from parents, personnel, and members of the community, the State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Carey Wright, requested the Office of Accreditation to coordinate with other MDE program offices to conduct a comprehensive on-site evaluation of the Tunica County School District to determine the district’s current level of compliance with all accountability requirements and policies, and accreditation standards approved by the State Board of Education (SBE) as published in the Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards, 2014.  The audit was conducted February 10-March 20, 2015.  The extended time included a three-week weather delay and one week for the district’s spring break.

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Boykin back on ballot for August primary

Jackie Boykin’s name is back on the ballot for the August primary election, after the Democratic Executive Committee withdrew its challenge to Boykin’s candidacy for Justice Court Judge in the Southern District last week.

An appeal hearing here last Thursday, May 14, before Special Circuit Court Judge Henry L. Lackey ended with an order agreeing that Boykin “meets the qualifications to seek the position.”

Boykin had filed to run for the post earlier this year but was notified in a March 13 letter signed by Mildred Conley, chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee, that she “did not satisfy the qualified elector requirement for the office....” The letter said Boykin had not been a qualified elector (or voter) in Tunica County for two years prior to seeking the office.

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District 4 incumbent only candidate to ‘debate’

For the second time in a row, only the incumbent participated in a candidate debate organized by Pastor Roman Fullilove.  On May 11 at the G.W. Henderson, Sr. Recreation Complex, Henry “Lil Sonny” Nickson, Jr. was the sole candidate to speak to the audience about his plans for District 4.

Despite their absences, candidates Curtis Jackson and Craig Harris were invited, Fullilove said.  Jackson had to leave town for a family emergency days prior to the debate and had not contacted the event organizer to confirm if he’d made it back in town to participate, Fullilove explained.  Harris, who is currently awaiting a judicial decision to allow him to campaign, chose not to participate at this time, Fullilove told the audience.

Though the one hour debate was scheduled to start at 7 p.m., various candidates for multiple positions throughout the county showed up and presented their platforms during the meet and greet portion of the event.  This delayed the debate by more than a half hour.  By the time the actual debate started at 7:35 p.m., more than half of the attendees had already left.

The event proceeded with questions asked by Mary McKay and Curtistine Jones.  Nickson answered a few quick questions about economic growth, jobs, and health care, but most time was spent discussing county finances and housing and neighborhood concerns.

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More than 30 third graders may not be promoted


Tunica County third grade students scored slightly below average on a recent statewide assessment of reading readiness, with 79 percent achieving a passing score of 926 or above. Those who achieved a passing score will be promoted to fourth grade; those who did not pass will likely repeat the third grade.

Statewide, just over 85 percent of third graders passed, representing 32,219 students. Nearly 15 percent, or 5,612 students, did not pass.

“Tunica County School District third graders performed significantly better than their Delta peers,” District Curriculum Coordinator Donna Smith said this week.

“Teachers have been preparing students for this rigorous assessment since the beginning of the school year,” Smith continued.

“We contribute our academic achievement to school leaders holding teachers accountable to the expectations of the Academic Plan.

“Our district’s Academic Plan requires students to have 25 minutes of engaged time on the Accelerated Reading program....”

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