By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – With the start of school in two weeks, the Water Valley School Board handled final business before the big day in Monday night’s meeting – activity that ranged from mundane revisions to handbooks and policies to pushing back the date of graduation a week to comply with a new MDE (Mississippi Department of Education) requirement.
The big day, the start of school, is Wednesday, August 8, and Superintendent Dr. Michael McInnis reported all of the teaching slots at Water Valley High School have been filled and only one position is unfilled at Davidson Elementary School (DES), a second grade teaching position.
Another big day, the last day of school, is May 23 and the new MDE requirement restricts graduation from being prior to that day. Trustees grudgingly agreed to move the graduation date from May 17 to May 24.
“I don’t want to vote for that but I am going to,” Trustee Pierce Epes noted, a sentiment shared by other board members. “This is your legislature at work for you,” Epes added.
“We have to,” Trustee Bryan Gilley agreed.
Other important dates noted in Monday’s meeting include the first day for teachers on Wednesday, August 1, starting with a welcome meeting and breakfast. Open house is scheduled in the district on Thursday, August 2, at 3 p.m. The district will be closed on Friday, August 3, for the watermelon carnival. Meet the Blue Devils will be August 9 at 6 p.m. and a scrimmage game follows the next day at Ripley. The first volleyball game of the season is on Saturday, August 4, as the Lady Devils travel to the Pontotoc Classic.
Other notes of interest discussed in Monday’s meeting include:
• Superintendent Dr. Michael McInnis reported a structural engineer had checked out the gym at Davidson Elementary School and found it to the structurally sound. The visit was scheduled to ensure the bleachers and other areas of the gym are safe.
• The superintendent also said Sheriff Lance Humphreys had assisted the schools with painting using inmate labor. Work at the high school included painting the bathrooms and work is scheduled next week at DES to paint the gym and other areas of the school.
• New LED lighting has been install at DES and all of the floors have been stripped and waxed with the exception of the library, which will be done before the big day.
“We have been very busy this summer,” McInnis added.
• Technology Coordinator Dwayne Bratcher reported the new intercom systems at both schools should be up and going by the first day of school, an overdue replacement for the antiquated system. The new intercom system in the classrooms is part of a phone upgrade with the installation of an intercom/voice-over IP phone systems that will also update the phone systems across the district.
• Trustees approved a request from Athletic Director Brad Embry to increase the ticket price for football games from $5 to $6. Embry explained the adjustment will help with the increased cost of goods and has been under consideration for a couple of years. The coach also said discussion is also underway for a similar increase for other sports including basketball, baseball and softball for next year.
“We couldn’t wait any longer on football,” Embry noted.
Embry explained that Water Valley is one of the few school still charging $5 for tickets and most schools were charging $6 or $7.
• McInnis reported the district has received preliminary results from state testing for the 2017-18 school year.
“All of the administrators are busy analyzing them and hopefully at the next meeting they will be presented to the school board,” the superintendent noted.