The Jackson County Board of Education plans to begin school as scheduled with the first staff day, Monday, August 3, and first student day, Thursday, August 6.
“Certainly, considering the safety and well-being of our staff and students, we plan to open school ‘as normal as possible’ with the best interest of our students in mind,” noted Dr. John Strycker, Superintendent of Jackson County School District. During the June 15 board meeting, Strycker outlined what “as normal as possible” looks like in his presentation to the board.
“We feel strongly that our students need to be back in school and that the classroom teacher knows our students best. Therefore, in light of COVID-19 recommendations, we seek to support our classroom teachers with more nurses, classroom thermometers, and additional cleaning as necessary,” Strycker said.
The district is also considering “academic recovery,” investing $70,000 per school with an additional $30 per student. Dr. Penny Westfaul, Director of Curriculum and Central Office Administration, stated, “Our school and district administrators have worked diligently to design a student-centered approach to spending CARES Act funds. We are determined to help our students recover any lost academic progress that occurred due to the COVID-19 school closure.”
“We care about our students with all our heart, and safety is a top priority. We simply feel that it is in the best interest of our students to be back in school,” echoed Board President Troy Frisbie.
The board also discussed the district’s facility/construction bond plan. With the consensus of a possible Spring 2021 bond election, the board is staying the course regarding the next steps necessary for a potential spring election.
“I am pleased that the Board of Education has selected an architect, and I look forward to working with Machado | Patano, PLLC in a team effort to put together a solid facility plan,” Dr. Strycker commented.
The first task for the architect is to conduct a county-wide, detailed facility study including items such as electrical systems, mechanical systems, structural systems, grounds/athletic facilities, and a demographic study to best determine projected enrollment and growth.
The Board also approved two assistant superintendent positions during the meeting. Starting July 1, 2020, Dr. Todd Boucher will become Vancleave Attendance Center’s Assistant Superintendent, and Mr. David Baggett will become the Assistant Superintendent at St. Martin Attendance Center.
Boucher will be taking over the Assistant Superintendent position for Vancleave Attendance Center. Boucher has been in education for 18 years in an administrative capacity at all three levels: elementary, middle, and high school. Starting as a social studies teacher at Biloxi High School in 2001, Boucher went on to become the assistant principal at both Biloxi Junior High and High School and most recently has served as the principal of Popp’s Ferry Elementary since 2013.
Baggett will assume the Assistant Superintendent duties for St. Martin Attendance Center beginning July 1. Baggett has been involved in school administration for the past 20 years,
beginning as the assistant principal of Ocean Springs High School in 1999. After assisting for six years, Baggett became the principal of Ocean Springs High School from 2006 – 2014 and was the principal of Starkville High School from 2014 – 2016. Most recently Baggett has been serving as the Assistant Superintendent for the Starkville Oktibbeha School District.
Strycker is very pleased that Boucher and Baggett have chosen to continue their careers by serving the students and families of Jackson County. “We are very blessed to have such talented and dedicated administrators come to our district. I look forward to working with both David and Todd moving ahead,” states Strycker.