by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/Owner –

The Pass Christian Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual update on education Thursday morning, March 2, 2023 at the Pass Christian Yacht Club featuring guest speaker Dr. Carla Evers, superintendent of the Pass Christian School District.

Evers began the discussion by singing a kindergarten song welcoming all members of the community and thanking the school board members present. The message from the superintendent was why? The question was raised to all of the members in a question of why you do what you do in relation to careers and the readiness.

“Today as we go through the presentation, I hope you leave a clear understanding of our purpose to question why,” stated Dr. Evers, who has served in the Mississippi public schools system as an educator and administrator for over 30 years. “As you look at our presentation, I encourage you to look at the backdrop of each one of our slides, you will see images of great things happening in the schools.

Following this address, was Evers mentioning the school district’s goals which center around partnerships, achievement, school safety and fiscal responsibility. She expressed the need for fiscal responsibility among the business community that attended the Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

Evaluating the demographics of the school district, Evers pointed out having been noticed among the state and national officials because of over 55.4% in need of free/ reduced lunches while maintaining an A-rated school district from the accountability rankings. Last year, Pass Christian High School had a 93.1% Graduation rate, which was the highest in 14 years.

Several other notes included the school district winning the 11th Mississippi School Boards Association (MSBA) Lighthouse Beacon Award last week, the 2022 Governor’s Award for X-Stream Learning, having two National ESEA schools, being ranked by the U.S. News and World Report as one of the Best Schools in the Country, and many more traits.

A financial snapshot was delivered on a slide with discussion of the school district’s accountability in relation to funding.

Dr. Evers spoke of the ad valorem effort which showed that mills have been reduced by the city from 57.76 in the 2021-22 school year to 56.22 year for 2022-23.

Additionally, the total budget was $27 million, while the pupil cost was over $14K (5th in the state), the average teacher salary being $53K (4th in the state), and the instructional salary being over $55K (4th in the state) among a total of 1,888 students.

Evers then handed off the microphone to Patty Cooper, the Chief Academic Officer for the Pass Christian School District to address the new Pass Christian Early Learning Collaborative for pre-k. Cooper expressed to the community that support for the expansion of this program would receive dollar-for-dollar state tax credit followed by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) issuing donation documentation to claim your tax credit.

Indicate your donation when you file your state taxes using form 80-401, which can be found on the Department of Revenue’s website. This will allow the department to verify your donation with the MDE.

Conclusively, Dr. Evers recognized two teachers that will be retiring from the school district and leaving a legacy: Dorothy Stewart and Dr. Freda Dedeaux.

The superintendent thanked each for their service and the effect they have had on the kids.