Loss of District of Innovation status will not impact funding, Vicksburg Warren School District says

Published 2:22 pm Thursday, July 15, 2021

The Vicksburg Warren School District recently lost its “District of Innovation” status, but according to VWSD Director of Communications Christi Kilroy, the impact of the loss will be minimal.

The District of Innovation status was granted to VWSD in 2016 and it allowed for waivers to certain state qualifications and requirements. For example, Vicksburg High School and Warren Central High School were eligible for a “seat-time waiver,” which Kilroy described as an allowance for students to spend less time in a traditional classroom setting and more time in alternative learning environments.

The only program that needs such waivers, she said, is River City Early College High School.

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“When applying for the renewal, the state granted River City Early College High School with the status but not the district,” Kilroy said. “This status is still important for the success and structure of the River City Early College program. RCECHS is currently a School of Innovation and their structure will continue.”

According to the Mississippi Department of Education website, the goal of the Districts of Innovation program is to:

  • Expand learning choices through innovation
  • Enhance learning for all students through innovative instruction
  • Implement rigorous standards
  • Reduce achievement gaps
  • Reduce student remediation post-graduation
  • Increase student engagement for all

The distinction is not a form of accreditation, Kilroy said, citing additional concerns voiced by members of the community.

“We have lost no funding with this change and this designation is in no way tied to accreditation,” she said. “Additionally, we have heard some concerns about the Academy of Innovation — there will be no changes there. Some in the community were confused between the District of Innovation and the Academy of Innovation — this does not affect the AOI.”

Mississippi currently has 11 school districts with District of Innovation status: Building Bridges Collaborative-Baldwyn School District and Booneville School District; Grenada School District; Hinds County School District; Oxford School District; Rankin County School District; Tupelo Public School District; Corinth School District; Gulfport School District; Kosciusko School District and Harrison County School District.

Regarding the effect on students and quality of education, Kilroy underscored that the loss of District of Innovation Status will not have a substantial impact on students.

“This will not affect any of the great progress that is going on in the schools,” she said.

In particular, Kilroy cited the following:

  • Career and Technical Education where students earned over 7,000 college credit hours last year
  • Vicksburg Warren College and Career Academies – where each student selects a career pathway and has access to resources to help them prepare them for college, career and life.
  • Exit Strategies — Each student will still be able to choose an exit strategy (Enrolled, Enlisted, Employed or Entrepreneur) and be prepared upon graduation for their next challenge.
  • Leader In Me 
  • The district’s “highest graduation rate ever” at 88 percent.