JPS addresses state concerns, water woes

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Kayleigh Skinner, Mississippi Today

The Jackson Public School board met Tuesday.


While no students have attended school this week due to city-wide issues with water pressure, the Jackson Public School District’s board approved a plan to address its own systemic issues Tuesday.

One week before the submission deadline, the Board of Trustees approved the district’s corrective action plan, or CAP, which outlines how to address the results of an investigative audit which found the district in violation of 75 percent of state accreditation standards.

Last month, leaders told the board the district’s biggest issues involve retaining and hiring licensed teachers and bringing the district’s old buildings up to the standards required by the state.

Executive director of school improvement William Merritt reiterated that on Tuesday, telling the board there are a few standards surrounding student teacher ratios, implementing an instructional management system, and special education that may prove challenging to clear.

“The common thread here is having licensed staff in place to carry out the implementation of these standards,” Merritt said.

Now that the board has approved it, the district must submit the CAP to the Mississippi Department of Education by Jan. 16. The plan will be presented to the State Board of Education for approval on Feb. 15.

The board also announced it will begin a search for a full-time superintendent by issuing a request for proposal for an outside consultant to help with the search process.

Jackson Public Schools

JPS Interim Superintendent Freddrick Murray

Current interim superintendent Freddrick Murray took time during the meeting to address the “crisis” surrounding water pressure in schools. District officials announced Tuesday afternoon that the district would close for a third consecutive day due to low or no water pressure.

This is an issue plaguing the city of Jackson as a whole. As of Tuesday morning, city officials have confirmed 119 water main breaks since Jan. 1 and crews are still actively working to repair them. According to the district, 61 percent of schools still have low, inadequate, or no water pressure at all.

Murray told the board the question of when schools resumes “depends on the water.”

“What we look at is making sure that it’s an environment that is conducive to good health and to teaching and learning … Right now we have about have about 40 sites that are involved and so it’s not a manageable situation with that number of schools,” Murray said.

The district has a few options on how to make up the lost days, whether it be by adding time to the school day, requiring a few days of Saturday school, or other options, but has not decided which route to take yet, Murray said.