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Sex education, lake area lead OCSD agenda

May 6, 2012

By STEVEN NALLEY
sdnedu@bellsouth.net

The Oktibbeha County School District Board will meet with the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors at the school district’s main office at 5 p.m. Monday to discuss the Oktibbeha County Lake Campground facilities and then hold its regular meeting at 6 p.m. in the same location.

County Superintendent of Education James Covington said both meetings will be open to the public. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks vacated the campground in late April after the agency declined to renew its 16th section land lease. At that time, Covington said he met with MDWFP and Secretary of State officials in March to discuss the reappraised value of the 16th section land. Wildlife officials later declined to renew the lease, he said, placing the land back in OCSD’s hands.

The school board recently began advertising the property for potential lessees, and Covington said the land has now been appraised at $40,000.

Once the OCSD board’s regular meeting starts, Covington said he intends to bring several items before the board, including sex education policies in compliance with Mississippi House Bill No. 999. Passed in 2011, the bill requires local school boards to adopt sex-related education policies, implementing either abstinence-only or abstinence-plus education into the curriculum by June 30. Covington said the county will implement abstinence-only programs for sixth graders and abstinence-plus education for seventh and eighth graders.

“(This split is because of) the needs of the two groups of children,” Covington said. “Sixth grade, in our district, is elementary, where it might be middle school in other districts.”

House Bill 999 keeps abstinence-only education as the state’s standard but allows schools to opt into abstinence-plus, which adds discussion of contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases and their prevention, but not instruction on and demonstration of the application and use of condoms. Covington said OCSD will also include optional sex education elements in its physical education and health programs, letting parents decide whether to have their children take part.

“(The sex education classes are) going to take some professional development for those teachers that are going to be dealing with that sensitive information,” Covington said.

Covington said he will also ask the OCSD board to approve a $500 donation from Target for a student honored in April as part of the “Our Military Kids of the Year” program. According to a press release, Our Military Kids supports children ages 3-18 in families who face financial difficulties due to National Guard and Reserve deployment. The $500 grants help children enter sports, fine arts and tutoring programs which can help them cope, the release states, and Decorda Owens, 13, of EOCHS is one of five recipients across the country.

“(Owens) ... received a grant to take hip-hop dance classes,” the release says. “Dance is his passion in life, and the grant allowed Decorda to receive formal training. When not dancing, he volunteers with his church and fills his father’s shoes as man of the house in his absence.”

Other items Covington said he intends to bring forward for approval are a crisis management and occupational safety program, a district dropout prevention plan update and a school safety audit.

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