Education Summit

An educational summit Thursday set sights on achieving at least six priorities.

Among them, having all segments of a community understand the relationship of education and training to a successful economy.

The commission on the future of east Mississippi and west Alabama wanted input from the public for its 2004 agenda.

The summit was co-sponsored by commission, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, the Montgomery Institute, with participation by Mississippi State Meridian campus, Meridian Community College, the University of West Alabama, East Central Community College, and Jones County Junior College.

Dr. Phil Sutphin, president of East Central Community College and chairman of the Commission, said Mississippi's dropout rate is a concern.

"We need civic, education, and business leaders combined to search for ways to keep kids in school," Sutphin said.

"On the other end, we're wanting to insure that more children entering kindergarten are ready to learn," said Meridian school superintendent Sylvia Autry. "We're doing that with our pre-K classes. We're hoping to write a grant to expand our pre-K program."

Other priorities are boosting the quality of teachers, increasing participation in lifelong learning, and better preparing students for the workforce at the university level.