The Jackson Public Schools Better Together Commission took the formal step on Monday of seeking an outside group to conduct an in-depth study of the district’s problems.

The commission released a request for proposal Monday for an education organization to “conduct a student-centered study that leads to the creation of a community-wide vision
and plan of action to create an excellent, equitable education system that benefits all
students in JPS.”

The RFP details many of the problems the district faces – student population has declined in recent years and 99 percent are eligible for free or reduced lunch. The Jackson Public School District received an F rating for the second year in a row earlier this fall. Prior to that, the Mississippi Department of Education concluded an 18-month investigative audit which found the district in violation of 75 percent of state accreditation standards.

Responses to the RFP are due by 5 p.m. on Dec. 29. In-person interviews are scheduled to take place between Jan. 8 and Jan. 19, and the award will be announced Jan. 24, according to the document. The contract will go into effect on or around Jan. 29. View the RFP here.

Once hired, the group has 10 months to interview student and community members for their perspective and state education leaders for their thoughts about public education. The group will also help identify short term, intermediate, and long term goals for the district, among other tasks.

The commission also announced an upcoming listening tour, where members of the community are encouraged to come to any of the various public meetings to discuss their hopes and concerns for the districts. For each event, registration opens at 5:30 p.m. and the conversation runs from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 11

  • Christ United Methodist Church, 6000 Old Canton Rd.
  • Anderson United Methodist Church, 6205 Hanging Moss Rd.

Tuesday, Dec. 12

  • Cade Chapel Baptist Church, 1000 Ridgeway Rd.
  • Siwell Middle School 1983 N. Siwell Rd.

Wednesday, Dec. 13

  • Provine High School, 2400 Robinson Road
  • Mississippi e-Center at Jackson State University, 1230 Raymond Rd.

Thursday, Dec. 14

  • Jackson City Hall, 219 S. President St.

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Kayleigh Skinner joined the Mississippi Today team in January 2017 as an education and legislative reporter and advanced to a senior staff member in her four years with the company. Skinner most recently served as deputy managing editor before assuming the role of managing editor. Kayleigh has a bachelor’s in journalism from the School of Journalism and New Media from the University of Mississippi. Before joining Mississippi Today, Kayleigh worked at The Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat Tennessee, and The Commercial Appeal. She has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC Newsday Radio to discuss her reporting.