County schools can be proud of report card

County schools can be proud of report card

Posted: Friday, January 14, 2011 9:34 pm

By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
The Obion County School System can be proud of its overall annual report card from the Tennessee Department of Education.
Many positive aspects of the report were noted during this morning’s Obion County School Board meeting, held at the board office on South Third Street in Union City.
The regular monthly session had been scheduled for Monday night at Hillcrest Elementary School but was postponed due to the threat of inclement weather.
Two comprehensive reports on the status of Tennessee’s school systems — the Adequate Yearly Progress report and the State Report Card — were released one week ago. The review of schools statewide is partly based on standardized student achievement tests administered in the spring of 2010 and also evaluates student attendance rates, graduation rates and other test data.
For grades 3-8, based on TCAP scores, the Obion County School System district-wide received A’s in math, social studies and science and a B in reading/language — which are higher than the statewide grades of C’s in math, reading/language and science and a B in social studies. The district also received A’s in TCAP writing for both grades 5 and 8, as well as 11th grade.
All of Obion County’s schools are in good standing and met the benchmarks for graduation, attendance and proficiency scores in designated subjects, according to the report, but the district as a whole did not meet AYP on special education reading/language arts. The problem is already being addressed with Balanced Literacy and Reading Recovery programs.
Nancy Hamilton, the system’s supervisor of instruction for grades 9-12 and assistant director of schools, said the standards are now tougher and tests are written on a higher level, which is reflected in this year’s scores. She said areas for improvement are being addressed.
“We’re still proud of ourselves,” she said, adding the results reflect hard work by students and teachers.
James Faulkner, supervisor of curriculum and grant writing for the school system, said elementary teachers are collaborating and setting incremental goals, followed by review and adjustments in instruction as needed. He said teachers and administrators are doing a good job in already addressing concerns.
Obion County Director of Schools David Huss said the system’s graduation rate has gradually risen 10 percent over recent years as the result of considerable effort and emphasis by faculty. He said he is very impressed with the continued efforts of all of the county’s teachers.
Huss praised teachers and students as he presented board members with information on how the Obion County School System’s test scores compare with those of six surrounding school systems. He said county schools’ scores are “absolutely excellent” overall.
Mrs. Hamilton added that all of the county’s schools are Southern Association of Colleges and Schools-accredited and are in very good standing in non-academic areas of the report card. She said the county’s per-pupil expenditure is also below the state average and she, too, praised the county’s teachers and students for their outstanding efforts.
In other action during this morning’s 45-minute-long meeting, which was opened with prayer led by board member Fritz Fussell, the school board:
• Received a copy of a proposed calendar for the 2011-12 school year for review prior to voting on the calendar at the February board meeting.
Huss said school calendar committee members met several times to discuss the proposed calendar and took various ideas back to their respective schools for discussion with staff. The committee voted unanimously to recommend the proposed calendar after every school administrator and teacher voted on two proposed school calendars — one with a fall break and one without. By a slim margin (150 out of 298), the vote was to start school later — with the first day of classes proposed as Aug. 17, which is 2 1/2 weeks later than when the current school year began — and to have a long weekend around Columbus Day for fall break.
Parameters and chal-lenges for the committee included a preference for starting school as late as possible vs. keeping a somewhat traditional week of fall break; continuing the tradition of dismissing students for a day during the county fair; having at least 150 days of instruction prior to TCAP testing; having as close to 75 days of instruction prior to Adequate Yearly Progress/End of Course exams for high school students; and, most importantly, establishing a calendar that is most beneficial to teaching and learning.
Huss said the proposed calendar is for 175 school days (vs. 180 days in the past); students would be in class until Dec. 20 prior to Christmas break; and students would be in school only two weeks past mandated testing windows.
He also noted that with the extreme hot weather experienced locally the past couple of years, he believes the proposed school calendar is a wise choice.
• Heard a brief update on Coordinated School Health from director Chastity Homra, who reported 1,883 health-related screenings were recently done in county schools, resulting in 559 referrals and several children being helped with various health issues.
She also announced South Fulton Middle School has received a grant from participation in NFL Play 60, which will be used to start a food cart in the school lobby in order to offer healthy options; the county’s elementary schools will be joining the nationwide HealthierUS School Challenge; and the kick-off will be held Jan. 22 at the Obion County Public Library for the Walk Across Tennessee program, which has received considerable local support.
• Approved the second and final reading of an amendment to board policy regarding testing programs to reflect the latest legislative action. It was recommended by the Tennessee School Boards Association.
• Approved the central cafeteria food and non-food item bids for the second semester of the school year as recommended by the Reelfoot Area Consortium. The low bids accepted were submitted by Hardin’s-Sysco.
• Approved the first reading of an amendment to board policy regarding personal property sales.
• Approved a bid of $21,391.53 from Kidz Zone Play Systems for the purchase of pre-K playground equipment for South Fulton Elementary School’s pre-K program.
• Rejected a bid of $110,330 submitted by a Union City business for the purchase of a greenhouse for the Obion County Central High School Agriculture Enhancement Grant. Only one bid was received, but it was more than $30,000 in excess of preliminary estimates received while the budget was prepared.
Huss said he wants to review the specifications for the greenhouse to determine why there was such a difference in projected price.
• Approved a request from the school system’s Transportation Department to declare property surplus and dispose of it via sealed bids. The items include a 1988 GMC pickup with 230,000 miles and a 1976 Ford 1 1/2-ton box truck, both in need of repairs.
• Approved a consent agenda which included the monthly personnel, substitute teacher and financial reports, as well as approval of technology equipment being declared surplus and disposed of via the most economical method.
The personnel report listed the retirement of OCCHS guidance counselor Kay Cooper; the hirings of Lou Ann Peery in guidance at OCCHS, Julia Watters as a teacher at Black Oak Elementary, Renee Carr as an educational assistant (EA) at Lake Road Elementary, Cathy Hedgepath as an EA at Hillcrest Elementary and Brandy Ray as a teacher at South Fulton Elementary; the resignations of Lindsey Mathis as a teacher at South Fulton Elementary, Amanda Norton as an EA at Hillcrest, Rachel Joost as an EA at Lake Road and Cindy Russell as an EA at Ridgemont Elementary; and leaves of absence for Black Oak teacher Lynn Jones (military), Hillcrest teacher Linda Flowers (medical), Black Oak teacher Jamie Huss (medical), South Fulton Elementary custodian Billy Hussey (extension of medical), Lake Road custodian Frankie Ogden (medical), South Fulton Elementary teacher Heather Mayfield (medical), Hillcrest teacher Jennifer Kerr (medical), Lake Road teacher Michele Bell (medical) and Hillcrest teacher Emmylou Denman (medical).
Substitute teachers approved for addition included Linda McGlin, Mixon Moore, Curt True, Lana Carson, Shayanne Cole, Mitzi King, Mary Spaulding, Shelby Kitchen, Jeremy Keathley, Lyndsey Freeman, Shirley Fletcher, Ramonica Jackson, Ted Barclay and Carol Marshall.
• Approved several overnight student trips, including those for Obion County Central High School’s Beta Club, band and Art Club and those for the bands at Black Oak, Hillcrest, Lake Road and Ridgemont.
• Learned the annual board retreat will be scheduled for April 1 at the Obion County Public Library. The day-long event routinely includes the annual evaluation of the director of schools.
• Decided on dates when board members will tour all of the county schools. The board will begin on Jan. 26 by touring about half the schools, with a second tentative date of Feb. 9 scheduled to tour the remainder.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at cmenees@ucmessenger.com

Published in The Messenger 1.14.11

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