Appreciation was an underlying theme at the May School Board Meeting last week at Westview High School.
In his opening remarks, Steve Vantrease pointed out that May 8 is National School Nurse Day and May 6-10 serve as both School Nutrition Employee and Teacher Appreciation Weeks and thanked those groups.
Jeromy Davidson, principal of the host site school, echoed the spirit of gratitude as he expressed his thanks to the cafeteria workers who had prepared the meal for the evening, the teachers in attendance, the Westview staff who were overseeing Senior night, several athletic encounters and a band concert that evening. As a highlight of his report, he noted that 67 students had achieved a 21 or higher on their ACT, 49 had improved their scores from the fall to the spring, and 11 were added to the Wall of Fame for scoring a 28 or higher.
As a means of celebrating goals set and achieved, he announced that on Monday, Westview would host a Senior Signing Day spotlighting the 106 of 128 seniors who have already announced post-high school plans in the military, tech schools, and/or universities.
“Thank you for what you do. If you didn’t do what you do, we couldn’t do what we do. You care,” he concluded in final comments to the board.
Randy Frazier, the director of Weakley County Schools, and Teresa Jackson, an instructional supervisor, next announced and congratulated Teachers of the Year. Building-level Teachers of the Year are pre-K through 4th grade: Teresa Wainscott, Dresden Elementary; Kara Atkins, Gleason; Johnna Taylor, Greenfield; Megan Moore, Martin Elementary; Tiffany Frazier, Martin Primary; Nicole Hicks, Sharon; 5th – 8th grade: Lynn Brasfield, Dresden Middle; Amy Orr, Gleason; Anna Bryant, Greenfield; Robin Pape, Martin Elementary; Samantha Vaughn, Martin Middle; Steve Douglas, Sharon; 9th – 12th grade: Stanton Watson, Dresden; Melissa Stafford, Gleason; Matt Butler, Greenfield; and Ed Baker, Westview.
District-level Teachers of the Year are pre-K through 4th grade: Tiffany Frazier at Martin Primary; 5th-8th grade Lynn Brasfield at Dresden Middle; and 9th-12th grade Stanton Watson at Dresden High.
The monthly series of updates from school administration staff continued as Betsi Foster, director of federal projects, provided an overview of federal programs and revealed that the county had received the same monies as previously as a result of the poverty levels in the County showing little change. Currently 61 percent of the student population is on free and reduced lunches. She also said the 2019-20 funds had been distributed consistently with past budgets.
This year, she noted, Title I funds paid for 10 intervention teachers and provided for 75.5 hours per day for Educational Assistants. Next year, the budget will still cover 10 teachers, but provide one less EA hour. Title I also supports reading and math in grades K-8 through 7 part-time reading/math specialists. High schools will continue to focus on improving graduation rates and extending advanced course offerings to students. The total allocation for Title I is an estimated $996,484.
Foster distributed summaries that showed Title II funds are used to provide five half-time reading/math specialists to be used as instructional coaches at Dresden Elementary, Gleason, Greenfield, Martin Primary and Martin Elementary. Total allocation for these funds is estimated to be $142, 086. Title IV funding is new to the county and will be used to increase music and art offerings, train staff on student mental health and crisis prevention strategies, and train teacher on instructional technology. The estimated allocation is $70,227. Title V funds, estimated at $67,297, will be used to provide an additional reading/math specialist at Sharon School.
In regular business of the board, approval was given for budget adjustments to ensure that all federal monies would be spent. In this case, computers and printers for special education needs will be purchased. The first reading of a policy on meal charges was approved. Frazier explained the changes update the policy to comply with state regulations and include a clause allowing for unused balances not requested to be returned to got toward the unpaid balances of other children.
Vantrease reported the framework for the five-year strategic plan is now available for viewing on the school board website. The vote on the plan is scheduled for June.
During Frazier’s report, the director expressed gratitude for the numerous contributions of staff who helped to complete the two-week testing period and noted that the process had gone “rather smoothly” in comparison to the last few years when statewide technical problems resulted in delayed and incomplete testing results.
He reported that work with the advocacy group Weakley Arts Can was going well and a meeting was scheduled for the following day to continue the discussion on further arts expansion.
He also announced that Dyer County Schools had approached Weakley regarding a potential joint USDA rural grant that would enable the two to add distant learning labs in each high school to expand career and tech options. Discussions will continue. Dyer will take the lead on the grant, but Weakley will benefit as well.
Both Vantrease and Frazier voiced disappointment at the news of the week that the controversial Education Savings Accounts legislation was heading toward Gov. Bill Lee’s desk for signing.
“Remember,” said Frazier to the gathering of teachers and administrators in attendance, “the biggest voice is heard at election time.”
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