JACKSON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Students in the Jackson County School District will return to class as scheduled, Thursday, August 6, 2020. Teachers and staff will return Monday, August 3, 2020.
The district’s buildings have been closed since March due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Superintendent Dr. John Strycker said he hopes to make the return “as normal as possible.”
“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,” Dr. Strycker said.
Board President Troy Frisbie agreed, saying, “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."
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, said, “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.”
During their June 15th meeting, school board members also discussed the district’s facility/construction bond plan, and will move forward with plans for a potential spring 2021 bond 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 said.
The first task for the architect is to conduct a county-wide, detailed facility study including items such as electrical systems, mechanical systems (HVAC), structural systems, grounds/athletic facilities, and a demographic study to best determine projected enrollment and growth.
“We are seeking solid facility data to determine our exact needs. We understand that supporting a possible facility bond can be an emotional decision; however, we will establish our plan on actual needs based upon industry standards,” Strycker said. "Our kids deserve the best facilities we can conservatively afford.”
A community team will be established for input and planning purposes.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the board approved two assistant superintendent positions. 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.
Dr. Todd Boucher has been in education for nearly two decades, starting as a social studies teacher at Biloxi High School in 2001. He’s also served as the assistant principal at both Biloxi Junior High and High School, and most recently served as the principal of Popp’s Ferry Elementary since 2013.
David Baggett has been involved in school administration for the past 20 years, beginning as the assistant principal of Ocean Springs High School in 1999 and taking over as principal from 2006 to 2014. In 2014, Baggett became the principal of Starkville High School, and most recently served as Assistant Superintendent for the Starkville Oktibbeha School District.
“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,” Dr. Strycker said.