2013-10-24 / Local & State

So. Fulton Board Reviews School Performance

By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

NEWS EDITOR

Southern Fulton School Board and its team of administrators took ample time last week to review their rankings through the new School Performance Profile determined and recently released by the state Department of Education.

District Superintendent Hervey Hann kicked off the Tuesday, October 15, board meeting and Power Point presentation noting his strong interest in the area of curriculum, which is a word that is typically synonymous with money.

Looking back to his days standing at the front of a classroom, Hann said the focus was on getting as many aspects or areas of the “written, taught and tested” curriculum to overlap. With the “tested” curriculum now being determined by PDE through Keystone Exams and other standardized testing, progression is now being made by the state to oversee the “taught” curriculum, Hann stated. It is likely that the written curriculum will some day be taken over by the state as well.

Turning over the floor to principals Theresa Corle and Meredith Hendershot, Hann noted the administrative team will return to the board in December with an update on how School Performance Profiles (SPP) tie into teacher evaluations and effectiveness.

Accountability remains a high priority of the newly unveiled SPP that ranks each school, not district, using a 100-point score or percentage. In determining a school’s score, the state compiles a variety of data, including proficiency on PSSA/Keystone Exams; closing the achievement gap for all students in areas of math/Algebra 1, reading/literature, science/biology and writing; closing the achievement gap for historically under-performing students; meeting annual academic growth expectations; and other academic indicators such as graduation and attendance rates, advanced placement, college credits and PSATs.

Furthermore, up to an additional seven points can be awarded for extra credit.

Southern Fulton Elementary’s SPP was scored at 76.4 percent, while the junior/senior high school was at 74.4 percent. The scores, while comparable to those recorded in the Central Fulton and Forbes Road school districts, were the highest in the county.

Corle stated her goals for the future are making sure all elementary students make progress through a differentiated curriculum that offers support to not only under-performing students but advanced students as well; updating the curriculum using Common Core Standards; and keeping up to date with technology. She confirmed that SPP ratings will drive technology and textbook purchases in the future.

According to Hendershot, the high school is “on the right track” for fixing its science deficiencies. She pointed out that this is the first year students will be graded on Keystone Exams in biology. She anticipates test scores will be higher in the December round of testing.

Her summary of action items for the high school during the coming year included hiring a math teacher and seeing more coordination between the math and science departments to enhance student learning. The possibility of adding AP statistics as well as distance learning and community college classes was also discussed.

The superintendent concluded that the administrative team has logged well over 100 hours on the topic of curriculum since July. “Don’t teach the test,” Hann stated. “Teach to the test ... . Teach the issues being tested.”

Destany Younker was added to the substitute list for the position of custodian for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year pending the completion of necessary paperwork.

In a follow-up motion, pending the completion of paperwork, Daniel Leese was added to the professional substitute list.

Carrie Ann McAllister was approved to serve as a substitute aide and receptionist for the 2013-14 school year. The motion was accepted pending the completion of paperwork.

Brandon Wertz was appointed to the position of volunteer elementary and junior high boys basketball coach as recommended by the district’s athletic director. The motion was made and accepted pending the completion of Wertz’s paperwork.

Amy Fischer was approved to serve as a volunteer junior varsity basketball coach and volunteer varsity basketball coach as recommended to the board by the athletic director and pending the completion of necessary paperwork.

Melissa Duncan was authorized to serve as a longterm substitute teacher beginning November 15 for elementary teacher Herb Brambley. Duncan’s service will last through April 1 with an accompanying daily rate of $115.

Contracts/proposals

On a 6-0 roll-call vote, the board tabled taking action on a cost modification in connection with the district’s guaranteed energy services agreement. Board members Timothy Hull, Danny Crouse and Mark Mosemann were unable to attend the October 22 meeting.

As a follow-up to discussions in recent months regarding educational services to 4- year-old students, the board penned an agreement with Fulton County Center for Families (FCCF). The agreement stipulates that if there is sufficient interest within the district, FCCF would be permitted to use the district’s K- 4 room at no cost; FCCF would be permitted to use the district’s “resources” previously allotted to the program; and the district will provide $1,000 for updated materials and curriculum for the class.

The board opted to move $1.125 million from its unassigned fund balance to the committed fund balance as of June 30 to address future debt service.

Curriculum

The special education students were slated to visit Hiram G. Andrews in Johnstown on October 17 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., and the National Honor Society will travel to New York City on November 14 and 15 for cultural enrichment.

Through an additional agenda item, the board agreed to send a student to EFA. A 20-minute executive session was held earlier in the evening to discuss a student issue.

Transportation

Violet Williams was authorized to serve as a substitute driver for contractors Kermit and Sheila Swope for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year.

George Valentine, Brian Mottern and Kermit and Sheila Swope were approved as activity run drivers. Valentine and Mottern were added retroactive to August 30.

Building and grounds

Southern Fulton band is scheduled to use the elementary gym, cafeteria and stage on November 9 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. for the purpose of conducting a luau.

Southern Fulton Basketball League will be using the elementary gymnasium through April 30 for basketball recreation between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Other

On a 4-2 roll-call vote, the board agreed to return a milkshake machine to Lonnie Palmer and the Young Farmers. Palmer and his organization provided the district with the machine many years ago, but it is unable to be used in the high school cafeteria due to new federal government guidelines. Board members Dave Smith and Allen Morton cast dissenting votes.

Public comment

Concerned father Jeff Hull appeared before the board to discuss the inappropriate language and actions of a student riding his daughters’ bus. Hull outlined incidents that occurred last year and during the current school year.

Superintendent Hann noted he was unable to go into detail regarding the incidents because they were in a public meeting. However, he did note the district does follow a process for situations such as these using the student handbook or IEP. Hull and Hann agreed to correspond on the matter further via e-mail.

Hull in turn thanked the board and administration for doing a good job and for what they do for the community.

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