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PCA vs. public schools not likely this year

[06/29/01] Porters Chapel Academy is looking into getting accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, but it is not likely the process will be done in time for the school to compete against public schools in athletics next school year, PCA headmaster Gwen Reiber said.

“I wouldn’t expect it to be done by next May. Even in the information that comes from SACS, I think that they look at it as a multi-year process,” Reiber said, adding that the move was already being considered to help transfer students and students applying to colleges that consider SACS accreditation for admission.

Porters Chapel has an “A” accreditation rating for secondary education from the Mississippi Private Schools Association the organization’s second-highest rating but is one of 31 MPSA schools not also accredited through SACS, the South’s largest accrediting organization.

Last week, the Mississippi High School Activities Association gave the go-ahead for its members to play schools in the MPSA, but only if the MPSA schools were accredited through SACS.

The MPSA later OK’d the deal, but only for one year unless its schools that aren’t accredited by SACS are allowed to compete. The MPSA and MHSAA will have meetings later this summer to discuss extending the agreement.

St. Aloysius athletics director Joe Graves said the agreement would help smaller public schools.

“It’s not going to do anything for your 4A and 5A schools, but your 1A, 2A and 3A, it’ll revitalize the smaller schools,” Graves said. “Give us a lot more teams to play and less travel.”

PCA football coach Bubba Mims, who will also take over as the school’s athletics director on July 1, said he was interested in starting series in most sports with crosstown foes St. Aloysius, Vicksburg High and Warren Central if the opportunity is there for the 2002-03 school year.

“I think it’ll be a great rivalry,” Mims said of playing St. Al, a Class 1A school in the MHSAA. “I think it’ll be good for both schools … it’d be a tremendous gate.

“It may not be like Vicksburg-Warren Central or something like that, but it’d be pretty close. I think it’d be real good.”

Other coaches around Vicksburg also said they would welcome a rivalry with PCA.

“It wouldn’t bother me to play them. I think it’d be real good competition, and it’d be a real good money game,” said VHS girls basketball coach Mike Coleman, whose team has played PCA in the past in summer league games. “I think the community would be more into it than the kids would.”

Graves, who also coaches St. Al’s baseball team, said a new rivalry with PCA wouldn’t replace any of his school’s more established rivalries, however.

“They’re just like anybody else. You get on the field and we’ll play. It’s not like a Lake or a Natchez Cathedral or somebody like that. If they want to play, we’ll play. If we get the chance, we’ll play them,” Graves said. “I’m not going to bend over backward, but if we get an opening we’ll play them. We’ll see what happens.”

While the extra accreditation will help the school from an academic standpoint, it may not have an effect on its athletic programs if the MPSA nixes the current agreement after this school year.

Reiber said that Porters Chapel simply hadn’t applied for SACS accreditation, but many of the requirements were the same for the MPSA’s “AA” accreditation rating.

The application process with SACS costs about $4,000, she added, nearly the same annual amount the school pays to keep its MPSA accreditation.

“Mainly, what we have to do is go through the process, which is expensive and time-consuming, but beneficial,” Reiber said.

The biggest obstacles were automating the library and having guidance counselor Lynn Baker receive her master’s degree in counseling, Reiber said.

Baker is currently in the graduate program at Alcorn State and is scheduled to get her degree in December. Upgrades to the library are also planned.

“A lot of those things that they require, we have either done or are in the process of doing,” Reiber said. “I would say there are little things that do not strike at the quality of the school that will have to be adjusted … I didn’t see anything in there that seemed insurmountable.”