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PSD report to public given

By Staff, 10/9/19 10:03 AM

PRESCOTT – Superintendent Robert Poole burned through the Prescott School District’s annual report to the public Tuesday evening.

The meeting began with the Prescott School Board approving two purchase orders for $31,793.36. One was for a three horsepower liquid cooled spindle, for $21,595, while the other was for a heat pump, split system, band saw and construction grant supplies in the amount of $10,198.36.

He said these items were required under a grant from the Arkansas Department of Education, which stated what the district is to purchase with the funds.

The report to the public must be held each year before Oct. 15. Poole began by telling the audience the school’s student population, which is 918, down five from September, which showed a loss of almost 30 students since school started. He said there are 309 students in Prescott Elementary School, 312 in Prescott Junior High and 297 in Prescott High School.

He said the millage was approved and all facilities will be where they need to be once the new primary school is built. Poole pointed out the district must submit its master plan to the state before Nov. 1 to be part of the partnership money. He said the only thing he can see being needed is a new roof on the new gym as there have been leaks, which have been patched.

Poole pointed out the partnership program has increased the percentage it will approve to 72-73 percent, up from 68 percent as the state’s portion. The district will have to come up with the difference for any projects done under this program. During the millage campaign, it was repeatedly pointed out these partnership funds could be drying up and districts couldn’t count on them.

He said any projects approved on the master plan can be moved to the next cycle, if needed, adding the district may want to do renovations at PHS and the old gym later on.

Poole said the district is expecting to have a healthy budget and should meet the mandated new teacher salary increases. He said the state will help fund these raises the next two years, but it will be up to the districts thereafter. He pointed out the state operates on a 15-year salary schedule whereas the district’s is 28-years.

This seem to be going well where discipline is concerned, he said, as there have been no major fights or other issues. Having monitors on the buses has made things better there as well. As to bullying, there were three incidents reported at PHS, seven at PJHS and four at PES.

Kim Grimes, PES principal, said one of the incidents at PES stemmed from one child allegedly spitting on another and one occurring when one student kicked another’s sand castle over.

Poole said if anything happens parents need to report it to the district, and this can be done anonymously using the application the district has.

On the topic of goals, Poole said there is $26,000 for professional development and these funds are used for the professional learning communities and to attend conferences on things like school safety. Last year the district had no money for the alternative learning environment (ALE), but is looking at setting up an ALE site locally next year for problem students. He said there are some students currently in ALE at Hope at this time.

Under Title I, he said the problem is children are coming to school before they’re ready educationally. He said children need a year of pre-school before entering kindergarten and these funds will be used to purchase the equipment needed to provide intervention for students who enter kindergarten without going to pre-school.

Poole said one of the goals is to improve reading scores K-12 in the district, along with improving math scores, especially at the high school level. The district, he said, will be putting things in place for reading at PES with the idea of getting all students up to reading at grade level and understanding what they’re reading.

He told those gathered the district has closed the achievement gap in all subgroups at PHS, but the higher performing students have stagnated.

Intervention time will be used to help improve students reading scores, with 30 minutes added to these programs this year. These intervention times don’t take away from regular class times, but have been built in to aid students in need. Some students can get help twice a day if it’s needed.

Part of the problem, Poole said, is the common core requirements have been “pushed down” with students being required to do more at an earlier age.

Another part of the problem is the way the state has been requiring reading to be taught. It got away from phonics and went toward sight learning. However, as this hasn’t worked, things are going back to the way they did in the past with children learning to sound out letters and words along with being taught how to listen.

On the topic of math, it was pointed out students don’t have textbooks, only worksheets that don’t have examples of how the problems are to be done. This means parents can’t help their children. Poole said the district needs to go back to having textbooks and has been relying too much on technology.