School accountability rates ranks one Pine Belt school on top

By Karrie Leggett

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM)- Petal School District was rated one of only a handful of star districts in the state in the latest accountability ratings and they had a big gathering at the high school's performing arts center to celebrate.

A star rating is the highest designation given by the department of public education. Petal superintendent John Buchanan says this rating says a lot about petal school district.

"I'll tell you what it does. It validates what's going on in the classroom. It validates what is going on in the classroom. It validates the effort that the teachers are putting forth in there, they work so hard," said Buchanan.

Other star schools in the pine belt were: Petal Middle School and Sumrall High School. Lamar County was the only district in the pine belt to achieve high performing status.

There were nearly a dozen successful districts including: Forrest County AHS, Hattiesburg and Jones County.

According to the report, the districts on academic watch were Forrest County, Jeff Davis County, Perry County and Wayne County Schools.

Not all school and school districts faired as well, Laurel School District was listed as at risk for failing with Laurel High School listed as a failing school.

Laurel Superintendent Chuck Benigno says he anticipated the results.

"Well, the scores weren't surprising, in the sense that we've known for a while that particularly last year at the high school we did not have a real good performance. These scores are not something that is acceptable we can not be this far below the state average, and that is what we have been working so hard on since the first day that I have arrived," said Benigno.

Dr. Benigno says now he knows where the district stands and the results of the next report will be different.

"I have no doubt that next year our performance at the high school is going to be outstanding. So, it was disappointing but I do think it was kind of a one year glitch and I want to assure the community that next year they will extremely proud of the scores. Not only at the high school but at all of our schools," said Benigno.

Over all 51 percent of the states districts were successful and 21 percent are at risking of failing.