Thursday, May 22, 2008
Schools seek help with GED program
By SUE WATSON
County school district superintendent Don Randolph made an appearance before the Marshall County Board of Supervisors Monday to ask for funding for school resource officers and a GED program this fall.
After thanking the board and Sheriff Kenny Dickerson for the three school resource officers it has provided, Randolph said more security people are needed at the schools and he would like to have two additional officers this fall. He asked for a school resource officer at each of the campuses this fall to have full coverage.
Randolph estimated five resource officers would cost the district (or sheriff’s department and district) about $75,000 per officer which includes salary and fringe benefits, and the cost for a patrol car and gasoline.
“It’s simple to deter violence with prevention rather than throw dollars to correct a problem after violence occurs,” he said.
He said school resource officers provide a law enforcement presence, but do more, including serving as a counselor to students and providing certified first aid and cardiovascular resuscitation.
“Our students learn to relate to them,” he said. “If we could have these five in our schools, what a blessing it would be.”
The sheriff has brought in $150,000 a year in grants to help pay a portion of the costs of the present three officers, he said.
A request for funds for school resource officers has been turned down by the Mississippi Department of Education because of lack of funds, Randolph said.
“I’m here to plug the sheriff and what he does for us,” he said.
In order to address dropout prevention measures, Randolph said the county school district has planned to institute an in-school GED program this fall.
The State Department of Education has mandated schools provide dropout prevention plans in its “Get On The Bus” program.
He said an in-school GED program would be key to lowering the dropout rate. When a student is expected to drop out to go to work or has dropped out, the school would encourage the student to attend GED class two days a week for three-hour classes. Randolph said if the students attend GED classes at any one of the school campuses, they would not be counted as dropouts, and the school ratings would be improved by reducing dropouts.
If the student attends GED classes at any of the Northwest Community College campuses, then the student would be added to the enrollment at Northwest but counted as a drop-out in the school district.
Randolph said the district’s plan calls for hiring retired teachers to teach the GED classes. He estimated approximately $150,000 is needed to pay for part-time teachers and supplies.
Randolph said he thinks not asking for the funds for a GED program to prevent dropouts would be shortchanging the students.
“But can we (the taxpayers) pay it?” he asked.
He said he expects the school board to ask for an additional one mill assessment for the school district this fall to pay for the GED program.
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