Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

PSD gives report to public

By Staff, 09/19/18 10:34 AM

PRESCOTT – School districts in Arkansas are required to give reports to the public by Oct. 15.

The Prescott School District won’t meet again until Oct. 29, and gave its annual report at its September meeting Tuesday night, though some information hasn’t been received from the state.

Superintendent Robert Poole said the makeup of the district is 55 percent male and 45 percent female, with 77 percent of families in the district in the poverty level. Last month, he said, the district had 957 students, but gained 23 in the past month to make the student population 980 for September. This breaks down to having 357 in Prescott Elementary School, 326 in Prescott Junior High School and 297 in Prescott High School. The district ended last year with 971 students. He pointed out the district is funded based on the third quarter’s student population average at $6,000 per student.

The district, he continued, is 52 percent white and 38 percent minority.

The roofing project for PHS is scheduled to start on Oct. 1. Other plans for the district, he said, include a new elementary school, increased safety measures in all buildings and throughout the campus, and repairing parking lots. Should the district be approved to build a new elementary school, he said, and the other projects be done, the district should be good for about 20 years.

Poole told how federal funding, such as Title I and NSLA monies, totaling around $1.1 million for the district, have to be used. He pointed out the federal government requires these monies be spent or the district would have to return the unused portions. Most of the funding, he said, is spent on technology and school safety, along with professional development for the staff, recruitment, training, the alternative learning environment (ALE), and English Learning Language (ELL) to help non-English speaking students.

Financially, he said, the district ended the year with a positive balance, which is good, because districts ending with a negative balance two consecutive years are placed in financial distress by the state. The PSD, he continued, is working to build its fund balance to avoid this, but added the district could lose some funding because of last year’s ADM. Part of the problem, he said, is fewer people live in Prescott because of the lack of jobs, high utility rates and lack of affordable housing, but pointed out this isn’t just a Prescott problem, but is all across Southwest Arkansas.

Missy Walley followed talking about changes made in the Professional Learning Community (PLC). Every Wednesday, she said, school lets out at 2:15 p.m. with all staff meeting in the PJHS cafeteria from 2:30-3:30 as PLC teams which are focused on learning and results. The meeting starts with a public service announcement, with the group breaking into teams where data is collected for possible interventions to help students having problems. She pointed out some teachers and coaches drive buses and have to meet at other times, but everyone meets.

Everyone, she said, is involved and held accountable. They work to provide evidence of student growth and set goals for the staff to achieve. Walley said they didn’t reach all their goals last year, but did see improvement. There are still areas needing work, such as math. Part of the problem, she added, is if students don’t have a good foundation, they won’t do well.

Improvement, she continued, won’t happen overnight, but all teachers are focusing on getting all students to improve. They check to see where students are and work with them to get their scores up. She told the board the district hasn’t looked at data like this before because it’s all new.

When asked about special needs students in the PLC program, she said their information is passed on so their needs can be met. What’s helping in the elementary school is it’s now set up as a community where students tend to stay together in each grade instead of being split up each year. This allows teachers to learn more about the students, their situations and needs. The idea, Walley said, is to look at why students aren’t doing well. It could be, she said, the willingness of the student to put forth the effort, problems at home or learning difficulties.

Coaches, she said, have good relationships with their students and the district is working to transfer what’s done in athletics into the classroom. There has to be consequences for improper behavior, she continued, but teachers are working to try and find out what the problem is and correct it instead of simply going directly to punishing a student.

All students must now complete at least one course using Virtual Arkansas, online classes. Around 200 courses are offered via Virtual Arkansas, including college level classes. She pointed out these are blended classes and a live teacher is present, observing and working with students.

In addition, all students must complete 75 hours of community service to graduate. This isn’t simply doing volunteer work, as the students need to plan their service work and reflect on what they did and how it could be improved, writing a report on it.

Poole concluded the report saying the district is working on a new phone application to let people know about the Virtual Arkansas classes, when they’re being offered and what’s available.

The next board meeting is set for Oct. 29.