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- General Interest
By Sue Curry Jones
The 21st Century grant program, an initiative that runs five years, has been awarded to the Ava R-1 School District and according to school officials, during the first year of the program, the district will receive $445,000 to supplement opportunities for students. Under the grant, funding supports the creation of community learning centers at the school and efforts to provide academic enrichment opportunities for students during non-school hours.
The grant is geared for areas of high-poverty and low-performing schools, and the purpose of the money is to help students meet state and local standards in core academic subjects such as reading and math.
The program allows school administrators and teachers to expand academic support to students through a supplemental outreach program by implementing after school enrichment activities that complement regular academic subject matter. Funds also may be used to offer educational and literary services to families of participating children. Most generally, however, schools use the funds to carry out a broad array of before- and after-school activities to advance student achievement.
Under program guidelines, suggested activities may include:
• remedial education activities and academic enrichment learning programs, which provide additional assistance to students to allow for improvement to academic achievement;
• math and science education activities;
• arts and music education activities;
• entrepreneurial education programs;
• tutoring services, including those provided by senior citizen volunteers and mentoring programs;
• programs that provide after-school activities for limited English proficient students; establish ways to emphasize language skills and academic achievement;
• recreational activities;
• telecommunications and technology education programs;
• expanded library service hours;
• programs that promote parental involvement and family literacy;
• programs that provide assistance to students who have been truant, suspended, or expelled to allow them to improve their academic achievement;
• drug and violence prevention programs;
• counseling programs; and
• character education programs.
School administrators were notified of the grant award just prior to the board meeting last week, consequently district plans for the funds have not been announced.
The board meeting opened with the annual tax rate public hearing for the 2011-12 school year. With a 7-0 vote, the board opted to hold true to the $2.75 per $100 of assessed value tax rate. This assessment rate is the highest point the board may select without a public vote on the issue.
During the session, a certificate of appreciation was presented to the school maintenance and custodial staff in recognition of their hard work and many accomplishments in prepping all three campuses for the upcoming school term. On behalf of the board, President Randy Spurlock acknowledged Monte Valentine and fellow colleagues for their steadfast dedication and commitment to readying classrooms and campus buildings for a new year. Spurlock expressed the board’s appreciation for a job well done. He also noted comments from the community and that the improvements this summer were impressive and better than ever.
The monthly Missouri School Board Association (MSBA) board report for August discussed the issue of bullying, expressing the need for teachers, administrators and school board members to take a stand against bullying.
In the video presentation, Dr. Marlene Snyder, associate professor, Institute of Family & Neighborhood Life, at Clemson University in South Carolina, emphasized that school board members can make a difference on the issue.
Snyder, Director of Development for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, consults on a host of topics related to school bullying, prevention and intervention. Snyder was a guest speaker at a MSBA statewide meeting recently held in Missouri.
Taking care of annual business items for the ensuing school year, board members okayed a tuition rate of $7,090.15 per student; adopted a transportation rate of $812.99 per student; and approved the standard conflict of interest ordinance for two years. The vote of approval on each topic was 7-0.
The board also renewed their contract with the Missouri School Board Association (MSBA) legal agency. As a consultant, the group provides policy recommendations, updates and legal services to the school board.
Roger Sanders, son of Lester Sanders, was added as a contact to the bus owner’s contract with the school. The motion for the 7-0 vote was presented by Johnny Burkdoll, and supported by Ron Wallace.
Dr. Brian Wilson, superintendent, noted the football scoreboard upgrade will be adequately supported through advertising revenues, and if all goes well, the new design will be in place for the homecoming game. The tentative delivery date is September 8. Local sponsors of the new scoreboard are: Jim’s Body Shop, Cooper Lumber True Value, Wal-Mart, and Coca-Cola.
It was also noted that the new lights are installed and working at the football field. The ‘old football field lights’ have been installed at the softball field, and the City of Ava helped make the installation possible.
The State Board of Education approved the revised MSIP-5 plan last week. Some of the changes made to the program were listed as: a reduction to the level of testing required; gender breakdowns will not be used as a subgroup; and the requirement to report high school graduates that take remedial classes in college was also removed.
According to school officials, the revised program incorporates most of the changes recommended by the Missouri Association of School Administrators. Wilson said the revised MSIP-5 plan has been sent to the Secretary of State for another 30-day public comment period. The Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education (DESE) has indicated they plan to use the model to develop scoring guides for the year.
Principal Teresa Nash noted 470 students enrolled in high school and an increase in student participation in the fall sports program. Current participation numbers are: football – 50 students; softball – 23; volleyball – 28; and cross country – 14.
Nash reported 22 high school faculty members attended the school-wide positive behavior support development meeting held on August 10. Attendees viewed positive behavior training videos and reviewed plans for implementing the program.
Diana Premer, elementary principal, reported enrollment this August is slightly higher with 494 students; last year was 492 students.
This year the Ava preschool program will serve 16 four-year-olds in the full-day class; and 30 children (25 four-year-olds and 6 three-year-olds) in half-day. Eight three-year-olds on the waiting list.
Principal Cody Hirschi reported a total enrollment of 408 students in the middle school. He noted football will open Thursday, Sept. 1 at home against Liberty, and volleyball starts Thursday, Sept. 8, against West Plains.
All three campus administrators made positive comments about the new food service and menu choices being offered at the school. They said the enthusiastic remarks were being given by teachers and students.
The principals also expressed widespread excitement about the positive behavior initiative, and the different plans to spread encouraging, positive attitudes throughout the school.
Ava’s annual progress report or state accountability report (APR), for the 2010-11 school year was again recognized for Distinction in Performance. This is the fifth-year in a row the school has been recognized for achieving this level. The preliminary state report card indicates all levels were met in the MAP tests, and in the end of course assessment requirements.
However, for the 2010-11 school year, preliminary data also said that Ava did not meet the annual yearly progress target levels as established through the Federal measure of school performance and No Child Left Behind. Dr. Nancy Lawler reported each campus scored above the state average in communication arts and math, but overall the numbers did not attain the Federal measure of performance. She noted Ava is the only school in the SCA that does not have Title I sanctions.
Lawler said that out of Missouri’s 522 districts only 61 schools met the annual yearly progress target levels.
The board approved payment of monthly bills totaling approximately $240,000.
Board members present for the meeting were: Ron Wallace, Johnny Burkdoll, Regina Porter, Randy Spurlock, Pat Henry, Marsha Aborn, and Larry Silvey.
The next session is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 15, in the Board of Education room on the campus. The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m.