MPSD PREPARES FOR NEW SCHOOL YEAR
By Blake Bell — The Madison Journal
Madison Parish School Board (MPSB) Superintendent Dr. Charlie Butler is preparing for a new school year and embracing a nickname that he says embodies the spirit of what the MPSB is working to accomplish.
“Being in charge of (my) hometown during Covid has been self fulfilling,” Butler said. “To be able to be in charge during a challenging time is an honor. If anyone has the pedigree to lead during this challenging time it’s me. (I’m) competitive as heck. Being a listener, practical, smart, calm, collective demeanor, analytical, a leader with a vision are key characteristics when it comes to making decisions during such an unprecedented time. I feel I have to be ‘supermantendent’ during these times.”
Feeling the need to go above and beyond, Butler said , is key to achieving the many goals he has set for the Madison Parish School District as it slowly emerges from the bog of COVID-19. “I embraced the character (of supermantendent) and use it as daily motivation,” Butler said.
“I have a sticker on my mirror next to my bed. It’s a Superman sticker. I tell myself I have to be Superman today to save the district. Everyday, I go out and motivate myself to improve instruction and make our district more appealing. I truly believe I am the one to lead our district back to prominence.”
And Butler said the first step in that journey back to prominence is being proactive and involved with the day-to-day activities of the MSPD.
"I wanted consultants that worked along side my teachers and not just tell, but show, them the best researched based teaching strategies."
From day one, my blueprint for success came with the philosophy that we must first develop our ‘boots on the ground’ our teachers,” he said. “If not we won’t move. Therefore, I began with primary grades teachers and ensuring they had the knowledge and skills to effectively teach reading. The Bailey Group were consultants based out of Mississippi that I researched that could help train our teachers. They met my needs for what I was looking for. They had the track record. The had the data to show what they could do for us. I wanted consultants that worked along side my teachers and not just tell, but show, them the best researched based teaching strategies. Mississippi has moved the needle several spots up nationally because of their state plan and efforts. I knew these were the folks to help Madison move.”
Butler said, academically, everything begins with reading.
“I’m a big believer that every effort starts with literacy. Reading is the basics of learning. You are reading everyday all day. You will have to read the rest of your life so you may as well be good at it.
“As a youth, I would read the old botanical encyclopedias. Every one of the books started with alphabets and I would read and dream.”
In addition to academics, Butler said enrollment and other issues that don’t always get public attention, have been priorities.
“Mid-year that first year, we received ESSER funds that allowed us to pay for services such as consultants, professional development and training that would accelerate our learning from missing so many instructional days due to pandemic,” he said. “Millions were added to developing our staff first. See… I told you God will supply your needs when you are doing God’s work. Just another confirmation that he is with me add and guiding my everyday actions.
“In the meantime, I was charged with increasing enrollment. As a district, our numbers play an important role in what we are trying to do. We needed to keep our kids and attract others. I truly feel that our district provides the best instruction in the area. We focus on customer service, which is free and we started to make our district more appealing. These are two things you can see right away while waiting to see how much our kids are learning. It takes more time to see the results of improve academics.”
But while working toward academic improvement, Butler said other issues can be addressed immediately.
“While waiting on academic improvement, we can start right away with improving facilities though. We have the finances to do so. These finances comes from sales tax maintenance and doesn’t take away from our teachers or instruction but only enhances instruction. Sports, for example. Football is king in the south. The upgrading of the football field, which can be used for some many things, especially during Covid: graduations, outdoor classrooms, meeting space etc. Turf allowed these events to happen after bad weather and with little to no maintenance and preparation time. So, my first big project was to upgrade the grass field to turf and renovate track. Now this impressive upgrade is the model of the area. During that time, the parking lots were resurfaced, fencing was replaced, etc. one of my proud moments was to collaborate with police jury and the city to get lights out by the school. Community members were impressed with how I could unite people for a common cause and do what best for our kids. Facelifts such as painting the schools, elegant fencing, digital marquee will add a welcoming to our district. Adding colors to our building will stimulate our minds, shows life. It will make our kids and parent proud pulling up to a beautiful place.”
With so much going on ahead of the 2022-23 school year, Butler said he is excited about the future of the district.
“Besides the SuperMantendent name, I call myself the Covid super. I started my tenure here in the pandemic. God knew my pedigree. He knew he had designed and prepare me to lead the district during the most trying time in modern day education. God doesn’t make mistakes because yes I’m that guy.”