Kemper County Reacts to School Ratings

New rankings show that the Kemper County School District itself is no longer rated as Failing; instead it's one level higher at Low Performing.

East Kemper Elementary and Kemper County High School are labeled Low Performing. But that is also a level higher than last year.

West Kemper Elementary is labeled Failing, for the second year in a row.

But Kemper County school officials are not giving up on trying to successfully educate children there. They have a plan to make things better, as early as this year.

"We know that there's a lot of work that still needs to be done, but we are moving in the right direction," said Kemper County superintendent Jackie Pollock.

Pollock attributes at least part of the problem to the school's high teacher turnover. With 24 teachers in all, 6 new ones were hired last year and 9 others this year.

To help with teacher training and student achievement, West Kemper has been awarded a more than $2 million federal grant.

"The purpose of that grant is to provide transformational leadership changes and organizational changes, to make sure that we improve instructional practices," Pollock said.

"We're receiving a grant facilitator, two interventionists, a full-time parent liaison," said West Kemper Elementary principal, Connie Johnson.

Pollock says the strategists who are being brought in will work rigorously with faculty and students at West Kemper Elementary. She says there are no plans to immediately terminate anyone from a position. However, she says if there are those who cannot work with the plan that the strategists present, that could happen.

Johnson said she's optimistic that won't happen.

"They realize that improvements must be made," Johnson said. "They've been on board and they are very excited about receiving the grant and they are also excited about the improvements that we are going to make at West Kemper this year.'

All of the additional faculty members are expected to be on the job within the next month.

Kemper County School District was among four in this area that were rated lower than Successful. Meridian Public Schools also rated Low Performing. The Newton Municipal Schools and Quitman School District were both labeled Academic Watch status, just one notch below Successful.

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