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.

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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.