By Al Owens
Meeting in regular session last week the Lewis County Board of Education heard two staff reports about whatís going on in two of the county schools.
Jerry Bloomfield, principal at Laurel Elementary and Mildred Richardson, principal at Garrison Elementary each informed the board about new strategies their teaching staffs are implementing to help each student succeed academically.
Bloomfield told the board that his school is goal oriented. Their current academic index is 73.3 but their goal is to raise that to 81.0 by the end of the year.
To do that they are using a variety of strategies and programs. For reading they have implemented the SOAR to Success Reading Program that is a reading intervention program that can be used with individual students or a small group. In math the school is using the Trailblazers program K-5 and the Connected Math Program for the sixth grade. Bloomfield said that the pupils are doing things mathematically that they have never done before at such an early age.
In addition to that the school has departmentalized grades three through six. He said that two teachers are helping the third graders work on writing their portfolios.
The school is also using the ThinkLink online assessment program. That is a diagnostic tool fully aligned with the stateís core curriculum.
Bloomfield said that they have also moved to a block schedule for reading and math and have implemented learning centers in the primary program. They serve as student workstations.
Richardson told the board that she was shocked when the test scores at Garrison Elementary dropped.
At Garrison the school has departmentalized grades four and five to ensure equity for all students with a strong academic focus and programs that are researched based.
She said instructional funds have been used to hire a half time teacher to instruct three small groups of students each morning using the SOAR Reading Progarm.
Richardson said that Belinda Forman and Diane Johnson are helping the teachers look at the data analysis to discover weaknesses and to make immediate changes for positive results this year.
She added that the school is teaching Core Content to mastery using curriculum maps to ensure that all content will be taught by the testing window.
Science Kits were purchased for the fourth grade to give the pupils hands on instruction. Garrison is also using the Trailblazers Math Program for K-5 and the Connected Math Program for the sixth grade.
Richardson told the board that the school has purchased the Houghton Mifflin Reading Program for the fourth grade.
The teachers also held academies for the fourth and fifth grade last October through the Christmas vacation and will have another academy for those same students beginning in March.
She said that the Homework Helpers Program with ESS and the 21st Century Program has been implemented with 60 students participating.
Richardson said that Garrison has to improve their academic index by 11.2 points, and they can do that.
Superintendent Maurice Reeder Jr. lauded the districtís teachers and administrators saying that they are all working hard to help the pupils reach their goals.
Belinda Forman told the board that she and Diane Johnson are traveling to each school helping the teachers with assessment of the studentsí performances. They compile test scores to see where the children are doing well or having problems and then implement strategies to help them improve in the areas that need work.
Paula Lewis elaborated on the dyslexia program in the school system. She said that 84 students in the district have tested as having dyslexia or characteristics of dyslexia, but since the dyslexia program has begun most of them are making improvement.
Since the meeting was the first for the New Year the board re-elected its officers. Joe LeMaster continues as the board chairman, Jack Sapp as the board vice chairman, Maurice Reeder, Jr. as the secretary and Joe Kennedy as the board treasurer.
The board moved to continue the meetings at the same time, date and place each month.
The board took care of several annual business matters.
It approved the semi-annual report of the District Comprehensive Improvement Plan. Forman told the board that this was more than words on paper. The district actually works to implement the improvement plan.
The board approved the annual staffing allocation formula for the 2006-2007 school year. Reeder said that this simply informs the state on how the district will staff its schools for the year.
The board also approved the first reading of the policy revision for the student welfare and wellness program. Last year the state legislature voted to require this program. It deals with such issues as what kinds of food and drinks the children have access to, activities in physical education, etc.
The board approved the draft budget for the 2006-2007 school year. This is the first of three budgets the board must approve since itís a work in progress. Reeder reminded the board that some changes will no doubt be made in this budget because the budget will be determined a great deal by the action of the state legislature when it sets the state budget. He did warn the board that the district will have less money than last year because the state plans to give about $105,000 less to the district while at the same time requiring a three percent pay raise across the board for all the employees. He noted that adjustments must also be made because of the increase in fuel and energy costs.
The board approved a change order for the renovation project at Tollesboro Elementary. The change order involves revamping and expanding the parking area, redoing some of the paving and adding a curb. The change order totals $32,379.58.