The Laurel School District, under the leadership of Dr. Toy Watts, has a restructuring plan for the 2019-20 school year. 

The addition of a 4-year-olds’ kindergarten program has been added for Mason Elementary School. Statistics prove that children who have access to early education are more successful in kindergarten, school district officials said. This will now give the district early education programs at all three elementary schools. 

To facilitate the space for the additional pre-K program, fourth and fifth grades from Mason will now attend our newly established Laurel Upper Elementary School on the Maddox Campus. All fourth- and fifth-grade students from Maddox, Mason and Oak Park will attend Laurel Upper Elementary School. Maddox Elementary School’s current lower grades will attend Oak Park, making both Oak Park and Mason pre-k through third grade schools.

By placing fewer grade levels at our elementary school campuses, this will allow those administrators the ability to provide better grade-specific supports, school officials said. With a smaller group of standards to focus on, administrators can fine-tune the instructional practices and rigor provided at their school.

Another change is the movement of the magnet school to the Jones building, becoming Laurel Magnet School of the Arts on the Stewart M. Jones Campus. The magnet school will keep its current configuration as a pre-K through fifth grade, arts-based magnet. The magnet school is a Mississippi Arts Commission Whole Schools Initiative School receiving both Model School for the Arts and Exemplary Model status.

In honoring the legacy of Nora Davis, the building will be converted into the Nora Davis Family Interactive Center. This center will provide the city with a unique place for families to play, learn and grow together. This hands-on learning center is a game-changer for the City of Laurel, school officials said. The Idella Washington side of the Nora Davis Campus will house the Laurel Education Center and a Teacher Learning Center.

A future plan, if funding can be secured, is for the vacant Stainton Building to house the creation of a STEAM Academy, which will provide accelerated opportunities for middle-school students. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. 

School officials are still in the early stages of planning, but the idea is to provide three areas of focus. Students would choose between applied sciences, engineering and integrated arts. Through the three areas of focus, students will be exposed to agricultural science, robotics, architecture, coding, performing arts, visual arts, digital media and much more. All represent opportunities available in our community.

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