STARKVILLE — Lewis Holloway is impressed with the extra curricular programs and the talented students in the Starkville School District.
Starkville’s new superintendent spoke at length Friday during a board of trustees meeting about his tour of the “white house” — the home of Starkville High School’s arts program — and the wind ensemble concert he attended Thursday night.
Holloway can glean plenty from test scores, but witnessing the instruction of Andrew Lark, who oversees photography, drawing and wood work at the white house, and the art work produced by students, left a strong impression.
“They had kids making guitars in one area and portraits in the hallway of another,” Holloway explained. “It was probably one of the greatest examples of multi-disciplinary education I’d ever seen.”
“And during the ensemble, the band director is using an iPod to adjust the pitch throughout the show,” said Holloway. “It was phenomenal. The strength of the district is your human resources and people.”
Holloway has been in Starkville since Tuesday, meeting stakeholders and city officials and gathering information for the assessment he delivered to the board Friday.
Holloway delivered a mostly positive report, noting the balance of student-to-teacher ratios throughout the district. Kindergarten to first grade was roughly 19 students for each teacher, while there was a maximum of 23 to 24 for each elementary and high school classroom, Holloway said.
Holloway is keen to incorporate more technology into Starkville schools, which may help teachers adjust to larger classroom rosters in the future. He noted the extensive use of Smart Boards and wants to expand the use.
“Technology will help teachers plan lessons that are exciting and engaging,” he said. “The Smart Board is a medium these kids understand. Nothing takes the place of a teacher, but they seem to be a lot more engaged.”
Holloway said he’s had discussions with Rob Logan, district comptroller, about resources to fund technology upgrades. Holloway said there’s a chance to realign resources to raise as much as $7 million.
“One of the concerns I had coming into the district was the possible lack of resources to do some of these things,” Holloway said. “So it was encouraging to hear that.”
Holloway also noted aging buses and possible lease alternatives to improve the fleet, along with plans to upgrade the district information system. He said switching from a state-wide system to one he used at Bulloch County (Ga.) would add an additional cost to the budget but would be considered.
Holloway will return April 2 and remain on campus through April 9. He’ll delve more into the budget, policy issues and staffing methods during his next visit.
Holloway anticipates beginning work the first or second week of June.
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