Positive reinforcement needed in dealing with public schools

Published 10:38 am Thursday, August 19, 2010

While I usually agree with R.G. Hollowell in his letters to the editor, this time I have a different opinion. Our public schools are not in pitiful condition, and I feel that positive reinforcement is the best way to educate the public.

School boards are policymaking in nature. They hire a superintendent to carry out daily organization of schools and investigation of complaints. If complaints continue, board members follow up by visiting schools and/or meeting with parents to solve problems. School boards make decisions on budget items and human resources, transportation and food service, building maintenance and 16th section lands for school finance, athletics and safety, legal issues and taxes for schools among other activities. School boards have the authority to dismiss the superintendent if they are not satisfied with his/her performance. School boards are legally elected representatives.

Our Vicksburg Warren School District has numerous students who win millions of dollars in scholarships to good colleges annually. Our local schools have won state championships in 16 different sports and some more than once. Our local district cooperates with Hinds Community College in operating the largest and most awarded vo-tech center in Mississippi. Our schools have dozens of nationally certified teachers and several who have won national acclaim. Our high-tech Robotics Team recently placed third in the nation in competition. The proof is in the pudding as our graduates continually find employment based on their education.

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Schools are a reflection of the community in which we live. If students come to school ready to learn, then the teachers can teach them. If the students learn disruption somewhere other than school, there is a carryover to the schools and teachers have to spend time correcting discipline — thus taking time away from instruction. All learning starts at a young age in the home. Public schools cannot choose their students.

As far as buses are concerned, we are fortunate to have drivers who will bring students to centrally located schools from Bovina, Yokena, Oak Ridge, Eagle Lake and other outlying locations.

We follow state law in providing public transportation, and many buses run several routes each day at different times. An empty bus at 6 a.m. might be a full bus at 8 a.m. Even further, handicapped students must have specially equipped buses and, in the past, some have been delivered to Jackson daily for special training. Buses used to run student routes during the day must carry bands, clubs and athletic teams in the evening. In order to keep many drivers for the 175 routes daily, some drivers take buses to other job locations to make routes on time — often 4 to 5 times daily. Each bus is checked in by the principal as instruction leader.

As far as expense in educating our students, Vicksburg Warren School District does a good job of balancing our budget. We did not have layoffs as others did because we planned ahead for reduced state funding. We strive to give our students the best available instruction with above average equipment. It is up to the student to retain the information given. Parents must direct their children in a cooperative effort with teachers.

Again, thanks to the public for interest in our schools. We invite you to visit at any time, and we invite you to volunteer your time working in any of our schools. The public owns the schools and should take part in helping to make them better.

As far as I am concerned, I am proud of the Vicksburg Warren School District and its employees. There is always room for improvement, and we welcome your input. My telephone number is 601-636-1694.

By the way, test scores improved this year.

Joseph L. Loviza is a member of the Vicksburg Warren School Board of Trustees representing District 4.