The Mississippi dropout rate is almost 40 percent according to State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Hank Bounds, and he says many of our students who do graduate aren't prepared for the workforce or for higher education.
In order to address that problem, local educators and business leaders are getting on board with a high school redesign program.
"If we redesign schools to meet the needs of today's young person, then we're going to do what we are supposed to be about in this community," said Meridian Superintendent of Schools Sylvia Autry.
The Meridian Public School System has formed a Steering Committee and five Task Forces to bring the school district into the future. Dr. Bounds says it's when the community gets involved that schools become successful.
"When communities demand that they have good public schools, then they typically have good public schools," said Dr. Bounds.
Redesign ideas range from allowing a more flexible student schedules to including the ninth grade with the high school. The goal is to design a program that will meet everyone's needs.
"It has to be relevant, you know, and I think that's going to be a big step in the right direction," said Associate State Superintendent of Innovation and School Improvement Beth Sewell. "By having the community come in and share with students, you know, what they need in the real world."
Autry says the school system is ready to make a change, but it won't be easy. She says it will take the entire community to make it happen. The Task Forces have until June 17 to form their ideas and present them to the Steering Committee.