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Board worries that planned building lacks sufficient space, but changes spell delay

Plans for a new building and updates on college placement were highlights of the Miller-McCoy school board’s monthly meeting, Feb. 27.

Facilities leader Nat Jones presented a floor plan provided by the Recovery School District. The RSD has asked for approval of the plans as they stand, with the understanding that “tweaks” can be made later on, Jones said.

The board can overhaul the plans, but RSD warned changes will set construction back by three or four years. With immediate approval of the plan, construction could be completed within two years.

The board agreed to consider the RSD plan, despite fears that it does not provide enough classroom space.

Middle-school principal Tiffany Hardrick said that the plan’s per-student space ratio “is just not what Miller-McCoy does.” The school has focused on offering a low student-teacher ratio. Other board members were concerned that the plans did not include space for alternative education for students with behavioral issues who need to be separated from their classmates.

The plans call for the new school to be built on the current Miller-McCoy campus, but in keeping with FEMA standards, do not include any “associated buildings” such as football or baseball fields and only minimal landscaping. A school exactly like the one RSD is offering Miller-McCoy is under construction in Ponchartrain Park. Board members discussed visiting the construction site.

The school leader’s report, provided by Hardrick and colleague Keith Sanders, asserted that 35 percent of Miller-McCoy seniors have been admitted to college. Two have been offered athletic scholarships and one has been offered a music scholarship. The school leaders said they are confident that they will reach their goal of 100 percent college admission.

Hardrick’s report on student achievement showed fifth-grade math to be a problem area. Miller-McCoy fifth graders placed 21st out of 26 schools recently tested.

But eighth-grade math, which was targeted with funding last year, has improved significantly. Miller-McCoy eighth-graders were second in recent testing, behind Lusher Charter School. Hardrick credited a new teaching program and an exceptional teacher for the improved scores.

Eleven board members were present, as well as a reporter from The Lens and one member of the public.

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