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PSD provides report to the public

By Staff, 11/18/20 9:06 AM

PRESCOTT – Goals and plans were the primary topic of discussion during the November meeting of the Prescott School Board Tuesday night.

This was the annual report to the public for the Prescott School District, as required by the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE). Basically, the goals are to continue increasing reading scores along with improving math testing scores. Part of the problem, said Robert Poole, superintendent, was schools being shut down in March due to COVID-19. Because of this, students fell behind.

To find out where students were in their education, they were tested shortly after returning to school for the 2020-2021 academic year. The new assessment not only shows students’ progress, but also provides information on areas in their education where they’re having problems. The students will be tested a second time in January or February to see how they’ve progressed and where their weak areas are.

Poole told about the federal programs providing funding to the district, including the ESA, formerly the NSLA, which provides money for technology and instructors, the ALE program, professional development, Title II, Title I and Title VI. Title II funding is used to recruit teachers, while Title I funds are for elementary school supplements and supplies, paraprofessionals and reading programs, while Title VI money is used for school supplies.

Students in grades nine and 10 were tested, including those who opted for virtual learning, from Prescott High School using the new assessment. Math and literature scores were good. These scores, the board was told, give predictors on where students should place in the ACT Aspire testing next spring. The overall goal, though is to increase these scores with students reaching grade level or better, showing growth overall while increasing the percentage on track for ACT college readiness.

There were some low scores in Prescott Junior High School, but these are being addressed with targeted intervention, just like in PHS. The panel was told the test scores can be broken down by individual student, targeting the student’s weak area. It was pointed out if math and reading scores improve, science scores will follow.

PJHS has a WIN program, standing for Wolves In Need. Teachers use the 45 minute intervention period each Wednesday to work with individual students to help bring up their scores. Students who do well are rewarded with extra activities.

The board was told this assessment is not a criteria test, nor is it required by the state, but is a tool to see where students are, where they’re having problems and where they’re doing well. The testing starts at grade level and can be geared up or down depending on where the student scores.

Kindergarten scores were good for Prescott Elementary School, but this is partially because the pre-school program didn’t shut down with the rest of the district. Otherwise, low scores were expected from students who lost educational time in class. Again, it was pointed out the focus is on math and reading.

Teachers are creating videos for virtual students. These videos are literally tailored to individual students and their needs. They belong to the district and can be used to help others in need as well. The videos are also used during intervention time.

PES, it was pointed out, has gone to joint grade between regular and special education teachers because there aren’t enough teachers to do the community plan as approved by the board. This, the panel was told, is due to the declining student population.

In other business, it was time to elect officers for the board. The choice was made to keep the board as it was with JoBeth Glass president, Reed Koger vice president and Ryan Harvey secretary.

The district received a literacy grant for two years, which will provide $50,000 a year. The money will be used for K-12 programs, special education, the purchase of classroom libraries and digital books students can take home and use to practice their reading with.

The board also approved spending $13,152.14 for the animal science class. This money came from a grant which specified how the money was to be spent with a list of what could be bought.

Enrollment in the district dropped by six students from October and is at 938. There are 346 in PES, 300 in PJHS and 252 in PHS.

A new salary schedule was adopted by the board as the new minimum wage goes into effect in January. Licensed substitute teachers will make $95 per day, non-licensed subs will get $85 per diem and nurse substitutes will be paid $100 a day. Classified personnel will make $11 an hour.

The board’s next meeting is set for Dec. 10.