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Board recognizes Austin’s service

By Staff, 05/23/18 11:07 AM

PRESCOTT – May’s meeting of the Prescott School Board saw the presentation of a plaque for Howard Austin, who will be leaving the board.

Austin replaced Sandra Evans, who passed away, filling out the remainder of her term. He will be replaced on the board by Altha Palmer in Zone 2.

Robert Poole, superintendent, read a letter from Rep. Danny Watson congratulating the boy’s track team for winning its 10th consecutive state track title recently. Poole also recognized the Prescott High School (PHS) fishing team for winning the state title. He said two athletes participated in the state decathlon with one coming in third and the other 13th.

Tia Blakely and Jan Birdsong updated the board on the 21st Century program, saying the program had a good year, but next year will be the fifth and final year for the grant. The district can reapply, but likely won’t get as much. The original grant was $660,000. The idea is to have local sponsorship with the community’s help to fund the program.

Blakely said there will be a summer program in June, adding the students involved participated in several things over the year, including being in the annual Prescott-Nevada County Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Parade. They had programs on hygiene, tobacco, bullying and dental care, and got to attend the play “Cinderella” in Magnolia.

According to Blakely, 20 percent of the students’ grades improved, 64 percent were unchanged and 10 percent had their grades drop.

Birdsong talked about how the program rotated its groups so the students could learn different things, such as socialization, how to deal with conflicts and get along with others, as well as cooking and science. The students built their own eco-system from shoe boxes and learned how what they do impacts the planet.

Between 55-70 students were involved in the program daily, with a total of 105 enrolled. About half this number has been enrolled for the summer programs.

The board was also informed about improvement plans for Prescott Elementary School (PES) and PHS. The plans, though, will have to be modified as the Prescott School District will be adding Prescott Junior High School next year in the new building. The new plans, according to Kathy Janes, aren’t called improvement plans anymore, but are Standards and System Support. Board approval was required so the plans can be submitted to the state for approval as well.

Angie Barbaree presented changes for PHS, saying both PHS and PES have four goals, all similar, with action steps to be taken for success.

The first goal is collaboration, with PES instructors working together on grade levels, occasionally having different grades meet to see what is and isn’t working. PHS will have work contract area teams doing basically the same thing, only in course specific areas.

Goal two is learning in English Language Arts and the math content area.

Barbaree said at PHS this will be measured to make sure students know and meet the standards. Shannon Henderson said PES will start with pacing guides, seeing what’s being taught and building time in for specific skills, while focusing on learning.

Barbaree chimed in saying one of the goals is to create a library at PHS of common assessments to be specific with standards. The library would be used as needed with teams of teachers looking at student needs.

The third goal is achievements in math and literacy.

Henderson said PES is looking for a 10 percent increase on the ACT Aspire tests for grades three and four, with students taking the STAR math test three times a year. It was pointed out K-2 students far exceeded the goal for ACT Aspire with a 70 percent increase in test scores.

Barbaree said PHS will also be using STAR tests, but students will only need to take it twice a year, unless little or no improvement is shown. This test, she said, measures individual growth. Part of the idea is for students to take ownership of their growth and education.

The fourth goal is a Response to Intervention (RTI). Henderson said 45 minutes a day are built in at PES where there is no new teaching done, but the focus is on intervention for those in need. Plans for RTI, she added, will be revamped over the summer.

Barbaree told the panel PHS is tailoring instructions for students, adding instruction as needed. One of the things being offered is a critical reading class, which carry course credits. PHS offers Critical Reading I and II, with the state wanting to add levels III and IV. This, Barbaree said, could potentially show eight years of growth in reading skills. The board approved of the plans.

Ten students will be transferring into the district next year, with four transferring out under school choice.

The board also approved policy updates as suggested by the Arkansas School Board Association (ASBA) and district. Poole said there were no changes, but updates and legal changes that were required.

In addition, the board approved of the inventory disposal list to get items no longer used or in working order off the district’s inventory.

As is required by the state, the board approved the 2018-19 special education and related services assurances and agreements. Poole said there will be more of these assurances later on, adding this means the district agrees to follow all state and federal rules and regulations in these areas.

The district will advertise a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). This, Poole said, is required periodically for building projects, such as the new elementary school construction planned. The district, he added, already has an architect on board, and could use C.R. Crawford Construction again, but must first advertise for proposals from other contractors who may be interested in the project. The board, he added, will decide which firm it uses.

Overall enrollment in the district is 971, with 524 in PES and 447 at PHS. This is down seven from the April census.

The board approved going to summer hours, which will be 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until school starts again in August.