New Superintendent Starts at Hattiesburg Public Schools

By Kelly Bryant

The formal introduction is over and the new Hattiesburg Public School District Superintendent has officially taken over the reigns. Dr. James Bacchus started Monday and said he looks forward to getting started. He said, "We have a lot of good things in place and I have to unpack it to see exactly what we need to continue, and what direction we need to change."

Bacchus said his first priority is getting to know the students to figure out what they like or want to change, saying, "I think about what's the best way for me to learn and get a clear snapshot of our students and also have some connection with them is just be where they are."

Bacchus is where they are each morning. He's been riding the school bus all week. So far, he's liking what he's hearing and seeing from the high schoolers. He said, "Our children seem to be very respectful based on the 2 days that I've been engaged with them. We have a 95% attendance rate, so we do have an audience for learning."

His main goal is improving the students' success rate. Bacchus says he wants to see more students walking across the stage at the end of the year. He said, "The main focus overall is student achievement and increased graduation rate. I believe that so goes Hattiesburg School District, so goes Hattiesburg. We certainly want our kids prepared to be able to go to college, and be ready for the work force."

When asked about budget, Bacchus remains reasonable, explaining that academics take first priority, saying, "Well, I don't know the lay of the land as far as budget goes, but if we have to cut back, we certainly will, but we won't be doing things that would impact children. And we certainly will not be willing to cut anything that's going to impede academic progress."

It's definitely been a busy first week for the new Superintendent, and he says he looks forward to what's to come for the Hattiesburg School District.

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