South Pike officials followed through on a proposal made last month to consolidate two schools.

The Eva Gordon upper and lower elementary schools, which share the same campus, will be recombined into one school for the next school year.

School board members approved Superintendent Donna Scott’s recommendation Thursday morning.

The campus was split into two schools in 2017 under previous superintendent Johnnie Vick, who also recommended splitting the high school and junior high school into separate schools, as well.

Board members held little discussion on the move Thursday. Scott unveiled the proposal last month in a board retreat.

She said she believed the schools and district would benefit from the campus receiving one rating rather than two. When last given a rating by the state, both schools were rated F.

The high school was rated D, the junior High rated C and Osyka Elementary School was rated B.

The proposal approved Thursday did not include assigning administrative personnel, though Scott said last month she was leaning toward making current upper elementary principal Dr. Geneva Holmes the principal of the combined schools and moving lower elementary principal Kim Daniels to the alternative school.

Holmes, giving her monthly report to the board, said most grade levels have shown growth in both reading and math, with about two-thirds of students showing growth in at least one of the state-tested areas.

However, proficiency levels remain low, and the majority of students are scoring below grade level, with many of those scoring two grade levels or more lower than their class.

Daniels, in her report, said many of the lowest performing students taking part in the lower elementary’s Saturday tutorials are showing improvement, with performance on diagnostic tests averaging 52 points of improvement.

In other school reports to the board:

• Career & Technical Center Director Billy Passman said most students there had completed the ACT Work-Keys test at Southwest Mississippi Community College in March.

Four students scored gold, 15 silver and 12 bronze on the test, while 13 did not score high enough for a rating. Of those getting no rating, he said about half were online students.

Every health science student that took the test got a rating, including, two gold, four silver and a bronze.Carpentry students got five silver, five bronze and one no rating.

Passman he was disappointed that some of his students have switched to online instruction, including just recently, so they can go to work.

The most recent changer “said his mama wanted him to get a job, so he was going to work,” Passman said. “When they go to virtual, they’re supposed to go to their virtual classes.”

He said he was told one student who got no rating on the WorkKeys test put his head down and went to sleep during the test.

“We investigated, and we found he had gotten off work at 4 a.m., and he was back at school at 7 a.m. to go take the test,” he said. “It’s just disheartening.”

• High school principal Caprice Smalley said he planned to have every class at the high school take the ACT next year.

“By 2024, the seniors that year will have taken the ACT four times and have an option for a fifth time,” he said, opining that prior experience will help students score better later.

• High school counselor Tyrone Varnado said a little more than half of this year’s seniors said they would attend a community college after graduating high school, and about a quarter plan to enter the workforce. About 15% plan to attend a four-year college or university and 3% plan to join the military.

In a class of roughly 120, he said 83% are on track to pass, and 17% are failing.

Students planning to continue their educations have received acceptance letters from six of the state’s community colleges, including Southwest; most of the state’s universities; and schools outside the state such as Texas College and the Savannah College of Art and Design.

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