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childrenfocus

by Elizabeth Waibel

Send education news to elizabeth@jacksonfreepress.com

Wingfield’s Bounce: A Case Study

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COURTESY JPS

oney isn’t the only factor in a good ment for teachers and extending the school education, but $5.2 million doesn’t day by 30 minutes to make time for more hurt, either. reading, among other changes. After spending several years near Smith said the staff is creating a culture of the bottom of the district’s rankings for No learning at Wingfield that expects students to Child Left Behind, Wingfield High School strive for higher grades and the school to one jumped last year to about halfway up the list. day be one of the state’s star schools. Wingfield has a federal School Improvement Grant to allocate more than $5.2 million over the course of three years to improve students’ academic achievement. Will Smith, assistant principal for school improvement at Wingfield, said the money allowed the school to make drastic changes, and he has seen an imWill Smith, assistant principal for school improvement provement in student at Wingfield High School, says the school is doing better achievement. Within academically in part due to a No Child Left Behind grant. one year, the school’s accountability status went up from at risk of failing to academic watch. “It’s possible,” Smith said. “We’re work“After the first year of funding, Wingfield ing very hard to get there.” is no longer on that failing list,” Smith said. If schools do not meet student achieve“We’re currently in year two, and we want to ment goals for two years or more, parents sustain what we’ve done.” can also transfer their children to a higherUnder the law, schools like Wingfield performing school, if they so choose. During that do not meet student achievement goals the last school year, 10 Jackson Public Schools for two years or more enter into a school- were in some phase of the NCLB school-imimprovement plan. Depending on whether provement program. schools are able to make progress in the next Susan Womack, executive director of few years, they might have to make dramatic Parents for Public Schools of Greater Jackson, changes to staff and academic programs. said she thinks people in Mississippi pay more At Wingfield, the school-improvement attention to the state’s ratings of schools—star plan has meant replacing about half of the schools, high performing and other labels— staff, providing weekend and after-school test than to the federal labels NCLB established. preparation, providing professional developAlthough parents of students at schools

UMMC Hosts Children’s Health Study

November 30 - december 6, 2011

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JPS Budget Priorities, 2012-2013

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Minimum of 5 percent reduction in proposed 2012-2013 expenditures of the District Maintenance Fund from the approved 2011-2012 budget. Maintain required student-teacher ratio within the district. Maximize reduction in staff and administrative personnel where possible through attrition, retirements and separation. Identify and explore additional external revenue sources for the District Maintenance Fund. Stronger oversight and accountability of federal programs and financial management. Explore outsourcing opportunities that will lead to favorable cost savings district-wide. Closely monitor required reduction in expenditures versus unforeseen external demands for special programs, transportation and athletics, and validate any additional requests and obtain board approval to reallocate resources as required. Dedicate 20 percent of new external funds generated to District Maintenance Fund for facility upkeep. Increase District Maintenance Fund balance by $2 million. Identify external funding and partners to assist the district with undertaking a long-range financial plan, a reorganization/right-sizing assessment and a personnel salary study.

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’Tis the Season for Budgeting! The school board has approved 10 priorities for setting the district’s budget for the 2012-2013 school year. The priorities call for the district to look for external revenue sources while cutting costs. The board is also looking for outside funding and community partners to help write a long-range financial plan to ensure its financial stability in the future. Board member Otha Burton, who chaired the subcommittee that wrote the budget priorities, suggested that the next step should be establishing a formal budget committee and getting community input. Burton said given the tight budget JPS is likely to have next year, the school board will have some hard decisions. “The real work begins now,” he said. “… These are going to be tough.” Comment at www.jfp.ms.

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by Elizabeth Waibel

Sharon Wyatt, principal investigator for the Hinds problems such as autism, birth defects, heart disease and obeCounty study location, said the county, like most of Missis- sity, NIH said in a statement. sippi, faces children’s health issues on a level that is not found Dr. Richard Carmona was the U.S. surgeon general in every area of the country. For example, when the study began. Mississippi has the highest teen-pregnan“We’re looking to find the root cy rate in the country. causes of many common diseases and “This study is intended to have a disorders,” he said in a statement. “When nationally representative sample that can, we do, we’ll be in a position to prevent from across the country, inform (research them from ever occurring.” into) what keeps kids healthy and what The Centers for Disease Control contributes to making them ill,” she said. reports that in 2008, more than oneWyatt said because Hinds County third of children and adolescents in the has such unique statistics and many chilnation were either overweight or obese, dren’s health issues, it’s important that the putting them at an increased risk for UMMC researchers are beginning a long-term study area’s children have a voice, rather than health problems such as high blood presof how children’s environments data coming only from a few states very sure, diabetes and certain types of cancer, affect their health. different from Mississippi. either during childhood or as adults. Researchers plan the National ChilThe CDC also noted that families, dren’s Study to be the largest of its kind ever conducted, and schools, faith-based institutions, the media, and the food and hope the results will help doctors and other medical profes- beverage industries influence lifestyle habits. sionals better understand how to prevent and treat health Comment at www.jfp.ms. COURTESY UMMC

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he National Children’s Study, a long-term study of children’s health, hosted a ribbon cutting Nov. 10 at the Jackson Medical Mall to highlight research that is taking place in the Jackson area. The study will follow more than 100,000 children around the country from before birth until age 21 and look at how environments affect development and health, according to the study’s website (nationalchildrensstudy.gov). Factors include neighborhoods, schools, food, water and other things that can influence a child’s health. Research centers around the country are participating in the study. The National Institutes of Health, one of the lead agencies, announced the first locations in 2005. In 2010, NIH announced that it would add a location in Hinds County, with the University of Mississippi Medical Center as the county’s study center. Hinds County is one of 105 locations around the nation selected for the study. In addition to UMMC, local partners include the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children and the Mississippi Department of Health. The study might add a location in Coahoma County in the future.

that are restructuring can have their child transferred to a different school, many choose to keep their child at his or her old school. During the last school year, only 149 students transferred to different schools through the school-choice program. “What we find is that even when parents are given a choice about changing schools, they often don’t take advantage of it because their child may be doing OK in the school,” Womack said. JPS also received more than $4.8 million for Supplemental Educational Services, such as outside tutors for children in low-performing schools, through NCLB. More than 6,000 students were eligible for the program, but only about a third of them took advantage of the tutoring. During the summer, 537 students participated in the tutoring program.

v10n12 - Spirituality Issue 2011  

Islam in the Middle Repairing the World The Jesus of Justice Body & Soul: Something Wrong with your Brain Gift for the Guys