|UC schools start year on high note
|Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 10:00 pm
|By KEVIN BOWDEN
A new school year is barely under way for the Union City School System and already there is a renewed sense of Tornado pride for Director of Schools Gary Houston.
For a school system that is focused on providing a well-rounded education for its students, the dividends are already paying off this school year.
First, Houston informed the Union City School Board Monday night the local school system has been named an Exemplary School District by the state. The Union City School System is one of only 21 school systems in the state to be designated as exemplary.
“It’s an honor. It’s a distinction,” Houston said. “Commendations to administrators, staff and students in attaining this elite status.”
He informed the board the school system’s exemplary status has been recognized in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the state Senate, courtesy of Congressman Stephen Fincher and state Sen. Roy Herron.
Secondly, Houston re-ported early attendance figures show a “significant” increase in student population.
“We have had an excellent beginning to a new school year,” Houston told the board. “From the preliminary counts, our student population has increased significantly and as a result, two kindergarten classes have been added. This brings the total number of kindergarten classes to eight.”
Houston told the board there are 160 kindergartners enrolled already at Union City Elementary School.
“That is significantly up,” Houston said.
He is expected to have a full attendance report for the board by next month’s meeting
Thirdly, teachers in the school system got a special surprise recently when it was announced they would all be getting new iPads to use in the classroom. Houston said the iPads were purchased using funds from within the system.
For only an 18-minute meeting, and only four days into the new school year, it was a very positive start to the 2012-13 school year.
Houston told the board he is “excited” about this school year.
However, Monday night’s good news did come with one caveat from Vicki Wilkinson, the school system’s curriculum coordinator. She informed the board the system’s exemplary status was awarded as part of a new accountability system being used by the state. The new system replaces the former No Child Left Behind program and focuses on student growth and achievement gaps.
Mrs. Wilkinson said the new system monitors student achievement in the areas of math, reading/language arts, algebra, English, science and graduation rate. She described how the new system is raising proficiency levels and is placing an emphasis on accountability.
In vague terms, Mrs. Wilkinson said the local system needs to close the gap on three “isolated pockets.”
“We already have plans in place,” she told the board.
Houston said Mrs. Wilkinson only received the state report Friday and is still working on deciphering all the layers of the report. There were no questions about the report from board members.
“I understand this gets a little confusing,” Mrs. Wilkinson said as she finished up her report.
Also during Monday night’s meeting, the school board:
• Was given a brief personnel report from Houston. He announced four new educational aides have been hired — Jeff Hayslett at Union City Middle School and Tara Keeling, Beth Payne and Krystal Worrell at UCES. Houston also announced Union City High School teacher Ashley Bryson and UCES teacher Laura Shepherd have been granted leaves of absence and UCES educational aide Elizabeth Koch has resigned.
• Rescheduled its September meeting. Due to a scheduling conflict, the board will meet next month at 5 p.m. Sept. 13 in the Municipal Building.
After a two month absence, board chairman Glenda Caudle reunited with her board Monday night and, prior to the start of the meeting, she led a prayer. The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance. Absent from the meeting were board members Curtis McLendon and Dr. Wright Jernigan.
Immediately following Monday’s meeting, the board went in to executive session to consider a personnel matter.
Published in The Messenger 8.14.12