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Gearing Up for 2012-13, Ava R-1 Looks to Missouri’s System of Accountability

No Child Left Behind Is Left Behind

By Sue Curry Jones

With the 2012-13 school year fast approaching, Ava R-1 School Board members met Tuesday evening to discuss items for the ensuing year.

During the meeting, the board focused primarily upon program updates, leave pay, and committee assignments for the year.  However, in executive session, board members accepted the resignation of Tori Webster, middle school special education teacher and hired  LeAnna Elliott, of Ava, a recent college graduate, to fill the vacated position.

Elliott, who has experience in the Ava school system, fulfilled some of her student teaching requirements at Ava R-1.

After a review of the present sick leave/personal days policy, board members agreed the program should be changed from a set rule of ten sick days and two personal days, to a pool of ten days to be used as needed, allowing more flexibility.

Superintendent Brian Wilson advised board members they might consider adding a clause prohibiting consecutive usage of personal days, to discourage prolonged absences from the classroom. Receiving a general consensus of the board, it was agreed the leave policy should be rewritten and considered for approval at the next meeting.

Board members also reviewed the present policy on sick leave pay and opted to increase the payback option by 25 percent. According to Wilson, sick leave pay is a benefit to staff members who do not miss work and use sick days.  Based upon last year’s numbers, the 25 percent increase will potentially cost $6,250.

Motions to increase the payback were made by Larry Silvey and Pat Henry. The vote was 7-0.

The Ava R-1 Board spotlight recognized Beverly Johnson who recently retired after 41 years as an employee of the district.  Johnson had tendered a resignation in April, but has continued to assist in the administrative office with the year-end financials until mid-month.

From the community, the board spotlight acknowledged the attentive support and help of Ava Police Chief Reggie Johnson. Supt. Wilson commended Johnson for providing reinforcement and backing to the school staff, and noted it was very reassuring the school’s needs were treated with importance and a sense of urgency.

Board President Randy Spurlock presented Chief Johnson with a certificate of appreciation.

Dr. Nancy Lawler reported Missouri’s Elementary & Secondary Education’s request for a waiver from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program was approved on June 29.

Missouri was one of five states approved to receive a waiver, along with Arkansas, South Dakota, Utah and Virginia.  Lawler explained under the waiver Ava will have more flexibility to use federal monies as needed and will no longer be held to the NCLB annual yearly progress requirements and testing standards.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires states to measure “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) for schools receiving Title I funds, with the goal for all students to reach the proficient level on reading/language arts and mathematics tests by the 2013-14 school year.  Under NCLB, states must define minimum levels of improvement as measured by standardized tests.  AYP targets are set for overall achievement and for subgroups of students, including major groups of economically disadvantaged students, limited English proficient (LEP) students and students with disabilities. If a school receiving Title I funding fails to meet its AYP target for two or more consecutive years, the school is designated “in need of improvement” and faces specific consequences.

Under the waiver, Ava schools will receive relief from the federal NCLB requirements, and will be held accounta­ble to state guidelines instead.

According to Lawler, the state system will change the teacher’s evaluation process, and use the Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP) guidelines as the diagram for improvements. The plan also requires Ava R-1 to ensure all students graduate from high school college and/or career ready.

State guidelines will measure the school’s progress against established standards and document annual performance levels.  Districts will also be assessed and categorized into one of the following designa­tions:  Reward, Priority or Focus.

According to the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, the state of Missouri will now be able to implement higher academic standards; create a state system of accountability; use Title I funds more appropriately; focus more on school improvements; and improve the teacher evaluation system.

Under the new program, Missouri must be one of the top ten states in education by the year 2020.

Principal Diane Premer reports Regina Robertson has been painting murals and figures in the elementary hallways and created “special” Bear mascots for each grade.  The Bears will be on display during open house Monday, Aug. 13.

Premer said at the beginning and end of each school year, elementary students, in grades 1–4, are given a story to read on the computer and tested on comprehension.  This past year, at the beginning of the term, 44 percent of the students were in the top two levels of reading capability.  However, by the end of the year, the test showed 70 percent  were scoring in the top two levels, and by the end of the year, 108 students had improved their scores.

Middle school Principal Mike Henry reported he has attended several professional development seminars over the summer.  In June, Henry and staff members attended the School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Initiative, a 3-day seminar held at Tan-Tar-A Family Resort in Osage Beach.  In July, Henry and four staff members attended the Making Middle Grades Work Conference in New Orleans.  He said the conferences offered great ideas and ways to grow and expand student learning.

Principal Teresa Nash, along with five AHS faculty members, also attended the Making Grades Conference in New Orleans.

Nash noted open enrollment is scheduled for August 2 – 3, in the high school cafeteria. Any student registering for the school year needs to bring a birth certificate, shot records, proof of residency, and a copy of their transcript.

In the maintenance report, Monty Valentine reported painting projects in the elementary, high school and middle school are nearly completed.  The crew has refinished floors in the middle and high schools gyms, and installed exhaust fans in the football dressing rooms.  He noted over half of the school hallways and room floors have been cleaned and waxed.

Maintenance crews are also working on the sprinkler system at the athletic complex.

David Williams, director of The Bears Den, noted the program will start on Wednesday, Aug. 15, the first day of school.   This year The Bears Den will include the Archery in the Schools program, and training is slated for Friday, Aug. 10.

Supt. Wilson informed board members the new federal guidelines for meal nutrition this year require the school to provide the following five components, daily: meat or meat alternative such as cheese or high protein item; grains; fruits; vegetables; and milk.

This year student meals must follow the USDA Food Based Menu Planning guide as set out in the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, a format that does not provide a dessert option for students. Wilson said the school may try to provide desserts from time to time as a special incentive or birthday option.

Each school year board members volunteer their time and talents to serve on committees.  In 2012-13, board members have elected to assist the following groups:

Randy Spurlock –– A+ Advisory; Policy Review;  Professional Devel­opment; and Vo-Ag;

Regina Porter –– Attendance; Elementary Handbook; and Vo-Ag;

Pat Henry –– Attendance; CSIP; High School Handbook; Middle School Handbook; and will co-chair Salary committee with Larry Silvey.

Larry Silvey –– Calendar; Insur­ance; Policy Review; and Salary;

Johnny Burkdoll –– Drug Testing; Vo-Ag; and Vocational Business;

Marsha Aborn –– Guidance/ Counseling; and Special Services;

Ron Wallace –– Technology; and Title I.

Board members okayed the pay­ment of bills totaling $464,370.32.

The tax rate hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 16, at 6:00 p.m. in the Board of Education room, and the August board meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m.

Board members attending the Tuesday evening meeting were Ron Wallace, Johnny Burkdoll, Regina Porter, Randy Spurlock, Pat Henry, Marsha Aborn and Larry Silvey.