One of the hottest topics for teachers and administrators this school year has been evaluations, but for the most part, other than some minor tweaking and adjusting to the new model, it has carried over well and will continue to be utilized in the future.
Thursday night, the Weakley County School Board met in its November monthly session and Director of Schools Randy Frazier reported that adjustments were already in the works for the evaluation model, but that overall, the response was positive from state commissioners, superintendents and board members.
“The commissioner is appearing before the state board of education and they are proposing some tweaks to the model. It will probably pass and they will be looking at combining a couple of the 15-minute observations with the full lesson,” Frazier said. “For example, the first semester, we did a 15-minute planning observation and then a separate occasion went back and did a full classroom setting and this caused multiple conferences for administrators to have.”
The proposal that is expected to move forward will cut back on the number of evaluation sessions by half. This means that for professional teachers instead of four evaluations they will have two and for apprentice teachers instead of six evaluations they will have three.
“At the superintendent’s meeting last week, the superintendents organization voted unanimously to send a resolution to the legislature supporting the new evaluation model. There’s a lot of conversation out there about the model being dropped and I think we’re adamant that it is a good model. It needs some tweaking and there needs to be more discussion about what we’re doing, but we do feel like it has some positive benefits,” Frazier commented.
In the political realm, the evaluations are a part of the Race to the Top initiative and to drop them would mean to give up the $500 million Race to the Top money and change state law.
Administrator evaluations are taking place right now with Frazier and assistant director of schools Jeff Kelly directing them and, in the next few weeks to be in compliance with state law, they will begin visiting each school.
In other announcements from Frazier, last school year saw several students being able to utilize the E4TN system of online courses. These classes were funded through grant money, but now, as the program has “gone by the wayside” this year and the State has chosen not to fund it, school systems are beginning to look at different options. Frazier reported that he and staff will be generating ideas and options and will present them in the near future.
Recently, Gleason and Dresden High schools received a partial replacement in lockers and Sharon School received a full replacement. The date of completion for the HVAC projects at Martin Middle School and Dresden High School has been pushed back to Dec. 9. The original completion date was Nov. 1, but, Frazier reported that work is about 90-95 percent finished at both schools and the completion of the project will be “well worth the wait.”
In other business, two budget resolutions were approved. Resolution No. 2012-17 will budget money into the general purpose school fund for peer tutoring at Dresden High School through the Workforce Investment Act. Supervised by teacher Anne Moore, qualified DHS students will have the opportunity to get paid to tutor their peers after school. Additionally, money will be moved and adjustments will be made to the special education budget as federal changes continue to come down from Washington in both special education and Title budgets.
Resolution No. 2012-18 will budget IDA and pre-school money in order to follow policy and guidelines set by the state. This is all federal money.
Several items of policy were introduced at last month’s board meeting and passed on their second and final readings at this month’s meeting. They will now become part of the school policy manual. Policy items include:
• Policy 2.802 regarding payroll procedure
• Policy 2.803 regarding salary deductions
• Policy 4.2014 regarding physical education
• Policy 4.204 regarding summer school and non-traditional instruction
• Policy 4.301 regarding interscholastic athletics
• Policy 4.601 regarding reporting student progress
In consent items, the board approved the report of the school system/school compliance with Tennessee and the State board of education and the following field trips:
• Martin Primary 2nd-grade visit to the Elam Center on Nov. 2: field trip No. 3.
• Gleason 4th-grade to see a live production at the Jackson Civic Center on Nov. 30: field trip No. 2.
• Martin Elementary 4th-grade to see a play at the Ned McWherter Arts Building in Jackson: field trip No. 2.
• Martin Middle Beta to attend convention in Nashville Nov. 20-22.
• Westview cheerleaders to compete in Memphis on Nov. 5, Murfreesboro on Nov. 12 and in Orlando, Fla. Feb. 9-14, 2012.
• Dresden High Skills USA club to tour Bridgestone Arena on Dec. 3.
• Dresden High cross country team to travel to Nashville for the TSSAA State meet Nov. 4-5.
Sympathy was extended to Glenda Arant in the loss of her son, Susan Williams in the loss of her father and Beverly Williams in the loss of her mother.
Congratulations were extended to Jennifer Brown, Martin Middle School nurse, on being named the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth Child Advocate of the Year. Additional congratulations were extended to the Dresden Middle School boys’ cross country team for placing second and the DMS girls’ cross country team for placing third in the region at their meet in Memphis on Oct. 15. Both teams qualified for the State meet on Oct. 22.
Members of the All-Reelfoot Conference Football team were recently announced and they include Tracy Perry of Gleason; Matt Markowski, John David Ricketts, Greg Hall, Dakota Goodman, Heath Smith and Michael Willis of Greenfield and Dresser Winn, Quincy McDonald, Zach Cooper, Alex Warren, Jordan Mitchell, Gage Sellers and Dillon Yates of Dresden. Dresden Middle School won the Reelfoot Conference championship and Greenfield Jr. High finished in second place.
The next meeting of the Weakley County School Board will take place at 5 p.m. Dec. 1 at Martin Elementary School.