Community meeting

Columbus School District launches series of community meetings to hear public concerns about education

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – On Monday evening, the Columbus Municipal School District kicked off its new Neighborhood Tour, where education and city leaders will hold a series of community meetings throughout March.

“There weren’t any issues that I felt were out of the box things that we weren’t addressing,” says school district superintendent Dr. Cherie Labat. “It was just great to be surrounded by his family and community and to talk in an intimate setting about how to move Columbus forward.”

Dr. Labat says the meetings are the result of a collaboration between the Columbus City Council and Mayor Keith Gaskin, where the citizens of Columbus can come together to share their education concerns firsthand.

Sim Scott Park in Ward 5 was the site of the first meeting.

“They can talk to him one-on-one, they can see his interactions,” says Ward 5 Councilman Stephen Jones. “When you go to a board meeting, you might not be able to ask of questions.”

Jones and Mayor Gaskin stood by Dr. Labat as she shared an update on the latest school district news before opening a question and answer session.

“We invite everyone in the community to come and tell us what we can do to better serve our families,” says Dr. Labat.

The school district plans to hold meetings with members from two different neighborhoods each week.

Dr. Labat says many of the questions posed Monday were about rebuilding the Hunt facility.

“We bring workforce development, entrepreneurship, a blended learning academy for sixth graders and other initiatives to the community,” she says.

Some have also asked how the school district is tracking COVID-19 cases.

“How do you report? How do we get our numbers? says Dr. Labat. “And I explained that we are completely transparent.”

There were also inquiries about volunteering with the school system.

“As long as they have a background check or work directly with someone who is certified. You are welcome in our school district, we need you here.

Mayor Gaskin says he plans to attend almost every meeting.

“I am very supportive of Dr. Labat and his team and the teachers and these children,” he says. “I want them to know that they are a top priority.”

Dr. Labat believes that these meetings are only a first step.

“It’s about the students and our future,” she says. “The solution is to work together, and we are ready for that. And this community is ready for it. They are tired of being singled out and they just want to move forward to make it a healthy community.