Mississippi Briefs for July 11.

July 10, 2014 

Jackson homicides up over this time last year

JACKSON -- Officials here are trying to nail down a cause and a cure for what seems to be a rash of killings.

As of July 3, Jackson has had 37 homicides this year, as opposed to 21 this time last year. Most have been male, andmost of them shot.

Police Chief Lindsey Horton said officials are trying to put a finger on what elements contribute to the spike.

He said much of it is a drug problem.

He said the police department is budgeted for 525 officers, but is down to 427, and the homicide unit has 35 percent fewer investigators than this time last year.

-- Clarion-Ledger

Ole Miss working on construction, renovations

OXFORD -- Construction and renovation will create more student housing, classrooms and academic office space at the University of Mississippi.

A new dormitory is scheduled to open in August 2015, to house 304 students. It has not yet been named.

The former law school building, near the Grove, has undergone an extensive renovation to become space for the College of Liberal Arts and associated programs. Lamar Hall already has its first occupants, and this fall it will house classrooms and offices for the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and other programs.

Garland, Hedleston and Mayes -- three 1930s-era buildings that were dormitories until a few years ago -- are now slated for renovation into academic and administrative office space.

-- Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

Jackson schools face 200 teacher vacancies

JACKSON -- The Jackson Public School district is currently facing more than 200 teacher vacancies and not enough applications to fill those spots for the upcoming school year.

Human Resources Director Carol Dorsey says there are currently 218 open positions for certified teachers, guidance counselors and interventionists as of Tuesday afternoon. Dorsey says that's about a 10 percent rate, as Jackson Public Schools employs about 2,000 teachers total.

According to the most recent data available from the Mississippi Department of Education's website, four other districts in the state -- Kemper County, West Bolivar, Durant and Forrest County Agricultural - have higher vacancy rates.

If all spots aren't filled, Dorsey says students start the school year off with a retired certified teacher or a substitute teacher.

-- The Clarion-Ledger

Charter board considers hiring executive director

JACKSON -- Mississippi's Charter School Authorizer Board could hire its first executive director next month after discussing the field of applications in closed session Thursday.

Board members say they received 38 applications for the position from as far away as Hawaii.

The board also voted to start the second cycle of applications after approving one charter school in the first round. They say they plan to call for applications on July 15, with applicants submitting letters announcing their intent to apply on Aug. 15. Full applications would be due Sept. 15, with the board voting on applicants in December.

The board is still negotiating its contract with ReImagine Prep, the school it has approved to open in Jackson. That school is scheduled to open in fall 2015.

-- Associated Press

Madison Co. schools look to growth

CANTON -- Madison County Superintendent Ronnie McGehee says the school system will likely ask voters to approve another bond issue within the next three years.

McGehee says by 2016, the need for another middle school, a separate 9th-grade building at Germantown High School or both will justify the cost.

Germantown High School, which opened in 2010, was initially built with the capacity of 1,200 students. It will have 900 students this fall.

In 1999, when McGehee arrived, records show seven schools served 7,000 students.

Now, there are 21 schools and more than 12,000 students.

In 2009, voters approved a $61 million school bond issue to build Germantown High School and expand several others.

-- Associated Press

Adams County opposes annexation by Natchez

NATCHEZ -- Adams County's supervisors have vowed to work against any move on the part of the city of Natchez to annex portions of the county into the city limits.

During a state of the city address in mid-June, Natchez Mayor Butch Brown said county residents who live in the Beau Pre area south of Natchez better get ready when the city is ready for annexation.

Supervisors' Vice President Mike Lazarus says the county government would get an attorney on retainer to help residents fight any proposal to bring more of the county into the city.

-- The Natchez Democrat

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