Four Mississippi districts taken off probation

Four public school districts in Mississippi regained their accreditation status Thursday. In October, the Commission on School Accreditation unveiled annual accreditation statuses for all public school districts, which are either accredited, on probation, or withdrawn. On Thursday, the commission approved the upgrade of Calhoun County, Humphreys County, Kemper County, and Wayne County School districts from probation status to fully accredited. For a district to remain accredited, it must be 100 percent compliant in all 32 state accreditation standards. Chief Accountability Officer Paula Vanderford told the commission that all four districts have either submitted documentation that clears the standards they were in violation of, or received a follow-up visit from the Mississippi Department of Education to verify they were compliant. A handful of districts remain on probation for 2017-18 school year:  Coahoma County School District, Coahoma County Agricultural School, Durant Public School District,  Jackson Public School District, Jefferson County School District, Leake County School District, McComb School District, Natchez-Adams School District and North Bolivar School District, Hazlehurst School District, Leland School District, West Bolivar School District, Yazoo City School District and Yazoo County School District. The commission also approved recommendations to change a few components of the state’s accountability system, which will be presented to the State Board of Education for approval in January.

State health department launches childcare database

The Department of Health announced the launch of a searchable online database of the more than 1,500 licensed child care facilities in the state. The site, which allows users to search by provider name, services, city or county, includes performance information such as licensing status, inspection reports, complaint investigations, and monetary penalties assigned during routine visits or inspections. “Our goal is to give parents and caregivers complete information at their fingertips to make an informed decision on where to safely and appropriately place their child,” said Jim Craig, director of health protection for the Department of Health. The online search feature is a first from the Department of Health and will allow parents to locate child care centers or youth camps with specific features such as ages served, after-school care and special needs services. In the past, information on complaints and inspections was available to the public only by making a written request for a specific facility.

How one Mississippi elementary school improved to an A rating

In 2010, a year after Andrea Pastchal-Smith became principal of West Elementary School, formerly named West Oktibbeha County Elementary, the struggling school earned an “Academic Watch” rating from the state. At the time, that was equivalent to a D on the state’s A-F rating scale (which has been modified in recent years). Things are different now: Earlier this year the school received an A rating on the state’s new accountability scale, according to The Hechinger Report. Read the report here.

Kemper plant hearing officially postponed

The Mississippi Public Service Commission has canceled its hearing process set to begin Monday regarding the Kemper County energy facility. The announcement came on the same day state utility regulators reached an agreement with Mississippi Power Co. and other involved parties over what costs the company can recover from the fallout of its $7.5 billion-plus Kemper County energy facility project. During the nearly five-month process, the parties worked on settling the difference between what regulators thought Mississippi Power should recover and what the utility believed it should be able to charge customers, among other things. At one point, the sticking point was a $250 million difference.

Education department seeks parents’ help with state report card

The Mississippi Department of Education is asking parents for feedback on school district report cards. In a release sent Thursday, the department announced it is redesigning the Mississippi Report Card, an annual document that contains information about school and district demographics and academic performance. The survey responses will be used by the state Department of Education to “help redesign the format, content, and look of the report card.” The survey will help the department receive input from parents, along with stakeholder groups, and officials will also hold in-person focus group meetings “to determine exactly what data are most important and how best to present information in a way that is helpful to families and their communities,” according to the release. The deadline to complete the survey is Dec.

Both Mississippi senators targeted in Republican civil war

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon has his sights set on long-serving Republican establishment Sens. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran, according to an NBC News report. Bannon is hoping to take over the GOP with conservative candidates who can carry the torch of Donald Trump long after the president is out of office. He supports Roy Moore in Alabama’s upcoming senate election, and he has urged state Sen. Chris McDaniel to challenge U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker in a primary next year. He also wants Gov. Phil Bryant to send himself to Washington if U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, who is 79 and in poor health, retires before his term ends in 2020, according to people familiar with Bannon’s plans.