This blog is for anyone interested in CMSD. It is a place where we can share information, news, events, and activities in the Columbus Municipal School District. We can also discuss issues and policies that impact public education in our area. This is NOT an official site of the district. All comments are moderated and reviewed before published. Anonymous posts will not be approved. If you are interested in contributing to the blog on a regular basis please send me an email.

Follow CMSD on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CMSD_Falcons

Check out our district video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nob9JX6DRU

Thursday, December 10, 2009

World Bazaar

Hunt Intermediate is hosting a World Bazaar on Tuesday, December 15th from 5:30 to 7:00 pm. Come tour the school and get a "taste" of different cuisines and cultures. Classrooms will be transformed to represent the class's country of study. All students have been involved in a unique unit of study focusing on Kenya, France, the Bahamas, and Asia (including Japan, Korea, Israel, Afghanistan, and India). Everyone is welcome!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sale and Stokes-Beard Are Ready For The First Success Academy

September 29th - October 9th, Sale and Stokes-Beard Magnets Schools will conduct the first semester's session of Success Days. The staff at both schools has worked hard to prepare quality instruction to students during this first round of Success Academy. This innovative program adds 18 days to the school calendar at the two pilot schools. Nine days each semester will be used to implement rigorous remediation and enrichment for students.

Sale International Studies Magnet School is partnering with MUW for the enrichment activities that include touring and creating a "Wax Museum" of book characters with the W's education students. Stokes-Beard Technology and Communication Magnet School is "Digging for Fossils" and exploring the field of archeology.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sale and CHS IB Spanish Students Collaborate

The IB Spanish class taught by Mrs. Courtney Stanback at CHS will come to Sale to work with fourth grade students to help increase their fluency when reading in Spanish. The high school students have written children’s books about a specific country where Spanish is spoken. Each student has included a few of the 4th grade students’ names in their book. The CHS students will be grouped with the fourth grade students whose names appear in their books to practice reading in Spanish. The Sale 4th graders will then work with the CHS students to create illustrations for these amazing books.

What an exciting cultural learning experience between students who are studying Spanish. The students will meet once a month on this project. Mrs. Stanback and Sale Spanish teacher, Mrs. Jane Robertson are anxious to kick this project off this week.

When asked about the project, Mrs. Stanback stated, "I am very anxious for the CHS IB Spanish students to begin collaborating with the Sale IB students because both groups have so much to offer. Not only will they be sharing their language skills with each other, but they will also share cultural discoveries about the Spanish-speaking world."

The Commercial Dispatch: http://www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=2906

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Playground at Cook

Check out the article about the new playground at Cook. It is really cool. If you haven't seen it, ride by sometime.

A new approach to play time - The Dispatch - Columbus, Starkville & The Golden Triangle

Shared via AddThis

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Enrollment is Up

It takes a couple of weeks for everyone to get back in school, but as of the 4th day of school, we have a total enrollment of 4392 compared to the 4th day last year of 4272. This is a really great trend. CHS, Lee, and Hunt are all showing good solid growth in numbers. The number enrolled should keep growing for another week or so as everyone returns from where-ever to get started back in school.

And -- our Falcons play a jamboree this Friday in Philadephia. GO FALCONS !!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Meet the Falcons

There was a great crowd last night for "Meet the Falcons" at CHS. The team scrimmaged and looked pretty good at times, but they are young and need experience. I have to admit that number 53 is my son and since he plays center, I tend to watch the line block more than the rest of the game. Next week, on the 14th, the team travels to Philadelphia for a scrimmage in a jamboree. The band played last night and sounded great. There was lots of Falcon spirit and anticipation for a great football season. And .. it was HOT !!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lee Middle

Lee Middle School has gotten off to a great start! Our 8th grade students will be the last 8th grade to ever graduate from LMS and our 7th graders will be the first 8th grade to graduate from the new middle school-Columbus Middle School! Although we are very excited about moving to the new middle school, we are also looking forward to a great year here at LMS.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

First Day of School

Well, how was the first day for everyone? My son began the IB program today and came home pretty excited about the day. The IB program is just great for the kids who have opted to give it a shot. Seems the first day at CHS was very uneventful and a really good start. Everyone remember about Meet The Falcons on Friday, August 7.

STAR New Teacher Induction

I am excited to announce that we have 34 new teachers joining the Columbus School District this year! Last week's two day induction program called STAR (Strategic Training for Academic Results) was one of the best we have ever had. The teachers were actively engaged with team building activities, informative sessions with various district personnel, presentations on how to have a productive first day of school, and training on effective classroom management techniques. The highlight of the induction was when we boarded the Falcon Pride bus and toured this beautiful city! The teachers were able to see where our schools are located, as well as a several points of interest along the way. During the bus tour, the teachers participated in a trivia contest which allowed them to learn many interesting facts about our district and Columbus. I look forward to working with and supporting these new teachers as they work towards having a very successful first year as a part of the Falcon team.

I was thankful for all the wonderful press our new teacher induction received last week. Here are the links if you happened to miss them!

Program Brings District's New Teachers Up To Speed

Teacher Induction Process

Sunday, August 2, 2009

School Starts Soon

It it time for school to begin. The second year of our magnet themes should bring even more great opportunities for our kids. The IB program starts this year at the high school. We have really cool new playground equipment at Cook. Construction is underway at Cook, Sale, and Stoke-Beard. Of course, the new middle school is going up fast.

I think the expectations are high everywhere. Let me say THANK YOU to all our teachers, administrators, and staff who have worked over the summer to get ready for the 2009-2010 school year.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Washington Post Column on Longer School Year

Just happened across this column in the Washington Post about a longer year calendar very similar to the one in effect for Sale and Stokes-Beard for next year. The author has children in a school with what sounds like an almost identical 11-month calendar. She gives her first-hand account of how it works. (The Washington Post may require a free registration to read this article).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New Academic Calendars approved for 2009-2010

This article in the Commercial Dispatch details the discussion and the vote last night at the school board meeting.

Dr. Phillips did a great job of introducing the proposal and explaining why it is a positive move. He reported on the surveys that were done among parents and teachers assessing support for the extended-year calendar.

It's too bad more people weren't convinced to take this extraordinary step to improve education in the CMSD. Only Sale and Stokes-Beard will use the 11-month calendar this coming school year. All others schools in the district will stay with the traditional calendar.

Julie Jordan asked a very important question; What ideas do teachers and parents who rejected this idea to raise academic standards have to improve their schools? We must all be accountable for improving education. What are some of the other ideas?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What's Happening at Stokes-Beard Technology & Communication Magnet School:
Watch WCBI news for an upcoming feature of the Stokes-Beard Broadcast 101 team. May 8 Boot Camp Finale' will be held to celebrate all the hardwork our third and fourth graders have put forth preparing for the MCT2 and to cheer them on for their efforts on the tests next week. The MCT2 will be given May 12-14. Field Day for PreK-2nd will be held May 15. Stokes-Beard will have a culminating activity for the recent schoolwide Project-Based Learning unit of living systems. We will have the Bodywalk at our school on May 19th. Volunteers are needed to help set up on May 18th. Awards Day for PreK and Kindergarten will be held May 18th and for 1st through 4th on May 20th. May 21st is the last day of school for students and it is a 60% day. The Summer Excellence Academy for select students starts May 26th at Stokes-Beard and ends on June 16th.

Events at CHS

It is the time of year when there are MANY activities around the district leading up to graduation. Tonight, there is a meeting at CHS for the IB parents discussing the CAS requirements. tomorrow night, the football team plays an intra-squad scrimmage. The spring football game against Yazoo City is in Jackson on May 16. Graduation is May 23.

What else is happening?

Friday, May 1, 2009

State Budget

The US Dept of Ed approved the Governor's plan for the State Stablization Funds. This clears the way for final budget negotiations in Jackson. From everything I've read and heard, approximately $52M of the $71M cut earlier this year from FY09 budgets will be restored. Then, approximately $95M will be used for FY10 budget. (Some $19M will be used for IHL in both FY09 and FY10.) This leaves approximately $204M of the $391M total State Stablization Fund's allocation for education for future uses.

The expectation is that MAEP funds will remain "flat" for FY10; however, some of the other line items such as transportation and EEF will likely be reduced. All the conversation in Jackson about the overall state budget is very gloomy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Middle School Construction

Check out the weekly photos and follow the middle school construction progress on the Columbus School District website.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cook Volunteers

What a wonderful front page story about Maria Rincon, a parent volunteer at Cook. Congratulations Maria for being honored by the Governor and winner of the Jefferson Award. And thank you to Lynda and Mike Meharg working to enhance the landscaping at Cook. I know we have outstanding parent volunteers all around the district. There is something for everyone interested in helping. Good Job !!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Elementary School Lottery has run

The lottery for elementary magnet schools was run on Friday, April 17th and letters to parents went out this week.

Monday, April 20, 2009

CMSD is awarded E2T2 - Year 7 Grant

Columbus School District's Enhancing Education through Technology (E2T2) - Year 7 Proposal was approved by the State Board of Education on April 17, 2009. CMSD was one of nine districts awarded this grant from a competitive field of about 30 applicants.The grant was awarded for $180, 113.85. The grant funds will be used to bring state of the art technology to the Freshman Academy at Columbus High School.
Dr. Phillips will speak to Sale parents today at 6:00 p.m. on the proposed Success Academy Calendar.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Obama's education plan

Please listen to President Obama's speech on education and notice his 5 pillars of reform. Assessments, higher standards, innovation, charter schools, and more -- are just part of the future of education. Change and innovation are part of the landscape. These are all simply facts we face. Change is coming faster than ever to public education. President Obama proposed the following five pillars of reform: (but please -- listen to the speech and read more at the web site)

1) "Investing in early childhood initiatives" like Head Start;

2) "Encouraging better standards and assessments" by focusing on testing itineraries that better fit our kids and the world they live in;

3) "Recruiting, preparing, and rewarding outstanding teachers" by giving incentives for a new generation of teachers and for new levels of excellence from all of our teachers.

4) "Promoting innovation and excellence in America’s schools" by supporting charter schools, reforming the school calendar and the structure of the school day.

5) "Providing every American with a quality higher education--whether it's college or technical training."

more on 11 month calendar

Meetings are scheduled for parents (and anyone) to attend and learn more about the 11 month calendar. Here is the schedule. Parent meetings will be held April 20 at 6 p.m. at Sale Elementary International Studies Magnet School, April 21 at 8 a.m. at Fairview Elementary Aerospace and Science Magnet School, April 21 at 12:30 p.m. at Franklin Elementary Medical Sciences and Wellness Magnet School and April 30 at 6 p.m. at Cook Elementary Fine Arts Magnet School.

And, the "public" should know that every school board meeting is a public forum. Anyone is welcome to come and request to appear before the board in "open forum" at the beginning of each meeting. If you need longer than 4-5 minutes, just send a written request to the school district office and you can have a longer time to speak. The idea that the "public" doesn't have a chance to make comments, simple isn't a fact. All meetings are open for public comment as long as that comment isn't directed at a specific employee or student.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

CHS Spanish Honor Society

Last night I attend a wonderful event at CHS. Spanish students were inducted into the Spanish Honor Society. The best part -- the program was conducted in Spanish and translated for the rest of us. (unfortunately, i've never learned a language) My son was one of seventeen new menbers last night. It is very important in our global world that students learn something about a language but more important, they must learn about other cultures. In American, we are THE melting pot of cultures and the more we learn the better our future.

Mrs. Courtney Stanback did an awesome job. As she honored the seniors who were part of the first AP Spanish course it was clear she loves and cares for her students. Everything we know about successful schools tells us we need teachers and administrators who really care for kids. We've got that at CHS. Thanks to all those who participated.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

11 Month Calendar

Several comments on the blog have been about the 11 month calendar. We were planning to discuss at the board meeting on April 13, but we will wait.

There has been so much happening lately with the new building projects that the administrators have had their focus on getting the projects started. So, Dr. Phillips is planning some more surveys and meetings with parents about the 11 month calendar. Check with the elementary principals for more information. Many of the parents who attended the recent parent-teacher day had a chance to complete a survey.

Also, if you check at http://www.columbuscityschools.org/ there is a link about the calendar on the home page and an email address for submitting your comments about the proposed calendar. Please ask your questions so you can get answers and understand the new calendar -- what it is and what it isn't -- and understand the advantages for students.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Building Projects

Yesterday, the Board approved the low bid for the new middle school. So, as soon as the contractor provides the bond and insurance certificate (maybe 10 days or so) we should see work begining -- fast and furious -- at the new middle school site.

The Board also approved to advertise for bid the additions for Cook, Sale, and Stokes-Beard. We need additions to these buildings so there is room for the 5th graders in 2010.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Stokes-Beard Tech News

Parent-Teacher Conference Day is set for April 9 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Tech Lab will be open for parents to complete the annual online survey.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dual Credit Opportunities

Counselors at Columbus High School and McKellar Technology Center are currently recruiting students to take advantage of the dual credit opportunities that will be available for rising seniors. Both academic and vocational courses will be offered. Students will be transported from the high school to the Golden Triangle campus of EMCC to take courses. They will be away from school for about three hours, then return to take afternoon classes. Students will receive not only college credit, but high school Carnegie units as well. This is a great opportunity to get a jump start on postsecondary work, and to get acclimated to the college scene. Best of all - it's free! Limited slots are available, so contact a counselor at 241-7290 or 241-7200 to get more information.

Sale Happenings

We have a Parent Teacher Conference Day scheduled for Thursday, April 9th from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. We use this time to update parents on their child's progress as well as school updates. We always look for 100% participation from our parents on Parent Teacher Conference Day.

On Thursday, April 16th, our second grade students will be performing the play, "Rumpus in the Rainforest", at 6:00 p.m. Visitors are welcome to attend.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Lee Middle School Open House

Lee Middle School will have Open House May 5 from 5:00 to 7:00. Our award winning band will play as well as team presentations and a tour of the school. The Open House is open to all students and parents and we would like to extend a special invitation to new students who will be attending in the fall.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dispatch Article on Graduation Rates

Great article in today's Commercial Dispatch about the improvement in graduation rates in CMSD. It's never good enough until it's 100%, but seeing progress is excellent.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Board to award bid for new middle school

The Board will meet this week to approve the bid on the new middle school and work will begin. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday morning at 7:30 am. At the same time, the Board will consider releasing bids for additions at Cook, Sale, and Stokes Beard. Attendance is up this year and these buildings require additional space to prepare for 2010 when the elementary buildings become K-5.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Open House at Hunt

Hunt Intermediate School is hosting an open house on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 from 5:00 to 7:oo pm for incoming 5th grade students. Students are invited to tour the building and meet the teachers.

Cool stuff at Cook

I thought the article highlighting the signing to read program at Cook was great. Good Job Cook !!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Daily Journal in Tupelo discusses dropout rate

The Daily Journal in Tupelo has a good article about dropout rates for schools in there area. Check it out.

Daily Journal

Legislature to Recess without a Budget

It looks like the legislature will recess for a few weeks while the details of the stimulus package filter down from Washington. This means we won't have a budget signed by the Governor until probably May. Thus, contracts for the 09-10 school year will be delayed. But, there doesn't appear to be any major concern with MAEP being funded.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

2008 Graduation Rates released by MDE

The 2008 graduation rates have been "officially" released this week by MDE. You can read the press release at MDE's site. At the end of the press release is a link to the 4-page report of all the districts.

CMSD's 4-year cohort rate is 79% for 2008. We are better than any of the surrounding districts. I went through the list and found just 25 districts with rates 80% and above. So, while 79% is not good enough, it is in within the range of the top 25-30 districts in the state. We can be proud of 79% and work toward being one of only a handful better than 85%.

More Budget Concerns in Jackson

Budget estimates continue to cause concerns in Jackson as the legislature works on the budget for next year -- fiscal year 2010 (FY10). The budget estimating committee reported on Friday to the Governor and revised State revenue estimates DOWN by $400 million for FY10.

The legislature will have to find ways to increase revenues (ie, cigarette tax) and/or reduce funding to programs. It looks like education funding will be OK because of the stimulus package and the requirement that some 80% of the "state stablization funds" help fund education at no less than current levels. Yet, as they say, the "devil is in the details" and we've yet to see the details from the federal government. We've seen how the Governor is willing to turn down federal stimulus money if it comes with too many strings -- future unfunded mandates.

So, the legislature is in a tough spot trying to fund all the State program and balance the budget in the existing economic climate.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Stimulus plan will increase federal funds

The American Recovery and Reinvestment ACT (ARRA) will provide additional Title I and IDEA funding for all schools. So far, we have estimates of additional grants for the current FY09 and FY10 years. You can get an a idea of all the amounts at this House.gov site or this Department of Education site. But, we think CMSD will receive around $3M divided between this budget year and next budget year. We think we will have 3 years to obligate the funds. As far as we know right now, the rules and policies for how to spend the funds will follow the same guidelines already in place for Title I and IDEA funds.

Now, the extra funds from this part of the ARRA are different from the funds schools are likely to receive from the "state stabilization funds." These funds will flow through Jackson and our best guess is they will be used to restore full funding to MAEP in the current FY09 year and to fully fund FY10.

Proposed 11 Month Calendar

Dr. Phillips presented to the Board a plan for an 11-month school calendar. It seems that anything beyond the typical 180 day calendar is commonly referred to as "year round." However, the plan calls for closing the entire month of July. It adds 22 days to the calendar. We are calling these "yellow days" or "success academy days." Yellow because the calendar is color coded. "Success" because we expect the new calendar will significantly improve the success level of many children.

There is a 2-week block in the fall, 1-week in January, and 2 weeks in the spring. During those days, the students who have tested minimal or basic will received small group, individualized instruction. Those students who are proficient or advanced will participate in a variety of enhanced learning activities.

A few notable questions to answer: YES -- if a child is behind instructionally, he will be required to attend the yellow days. YES -- teachers and everyone else involved will be paid for these extra 22 days. For more information refer to CMSD web site or articles in the newspaper: Dispatch article and Dr. Phillips Editorial.

New Accountability Model

The new accountability standards proposed by MDE will certainly change the game for all districts. One significant change is that the model rewards districts for those "advanced" students and should serve as an incentive to help more students move from proficient to advanced. In running the numbers, it will be challenging for any school to reach the top 2 levels without having almost 80% of the children scoring proficient or advanced. Although the MCT2 scores from last year won't be used to determine our new rankings, it is easy to calculate the QDI based on the 2008 scores. Find the detail at the MDE site, www.mde.k12.ms.us.

A high school can't reach the top 2 levels without a graduation rate 75% or better. The bar has been moved and it is HIGH and will go up again for the next 2 years. We can expect that almost all our schools will move down a level, maybe 2, from where we were the last time we were rated. This won't be easy to accept, but it is time we raise expectations and compare ourselves to the rest of the world.