Whitesburg KY

Letcher schools will still grade writing portfolios

The Letcher County Board of Education has elected to have teachers grade writing portfolios even though it is no longer required by state government.

“The state has suspended accountability and the district is going to grade portfolios the same way they have always been graded,” said Letcher Schools Superintendent Anna Craft. “We are holding our staff accountable for positive student growth. They have developed a pride for moving forward and that is what we intend to do.”

Even though the goal of the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) of reaching proficiency by 2014 is no longer emphasized by the state, Craft said the Letcher County School System will still try to reach proficiency by 2014.

“Everybody in Letcher County is still going to be held accountable,” said Craft.

Craft said the writing portfolios need to be graded at a high standard to measure student progress.

The board approved the proposed revisions to board policy (No. 08.222) to make the writing portfolio process comply with Kentucky Administrative Regulation and Senate Bill 1. The school district will still test students in arts and humanities and practical living/vocational studies, even though it is not a requirement of Senate Bill 1.

Using Kentucky Department of Education guidelines, the school district will develop a program review for writing, practical living/ vocational studies and arts and humanities in 2009- 2010. Each school-based decision making council (SBDM) will develop instructional program reviews consistent with district policy which must include writing portfolios for each student.

Kelly Cornett, director of curriculum and instruction, said he wants students to continue to do research papers to ensure “college readiness.”

In other business, the board approved staffing allocations recommended by school-based decision making councils for the next fiscal year.

“We have looked at it and I am recommending that we keep all positions,” said Craft. “We have elected to keep the staffing the same at all of the elementary schools.”

Craft said all of non-tenured special education teachers were sent letters of non-renewal because of a reduction in the number of special education students. Craft said she hopes retirements and attrition will keep any positions from being eliminated.

“We expect the majority will be called back,” said Craft.

Craft said letters of nonrenewal were also mailed to employees whose positions are funded by the Save the Children program because the money has not been secured yet.

In other business, Kenneth Cornett, director of pupil personnel, said the district attendance rate was 89.02 percent for the seventh month of the school year. He attributed the low attendance rate to inclement weather. Cornett said he has some concerns that when the school district recently switched to a new computer system the attendance data didn’t add up.

The board also:

• named Randy Bailey, director of technology, as employee of the month.

• authorized Mayberry Consulting to complete the Early Reading First pre-application grant proposal and to develop the Full Early Reading First Application if invited to do so. The total maximum amount of the grant is $4.5 million for three years.

• accepted the Mind Research Math Initiative grant for Fleming-Neon Elementary School. The $23,000 will be used to purchase a computer program for the school computer lab to assist students in math and music.

• approved submission of an application for the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Education for Beckham Bates, Letcher, Cowan and Arlie Boggs elementary schools to provide $50 per child in kindergarten through six grade in order to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables to use as snacks.

• approved three rental agreement contracts for staging, props and costumes associated with a production of the play “Grease” to be performed by the Letcher County Central High School drama class. The board entered into a contract for $2,790 with Kenmark, Inc., for the lease of backdrops; a contract for $2,275 with Peter Avaglino Scenic Design and Production Services for the rental of a prop car, and a $3,598 contract with The Costumer for the rental of costumes.

Craft said the high school’s production of “Grease” is going to be its best production yet. Craft said an orchestra from Morehead State University will play the music during the production.

“It is really showing the talent we h ave,” said Cr aft.

• approved an agreement with the Kentucky Department of Education for Carolyn Spangler, a teacher a Whitesburg Middle School, to serve as a Highly Skilled Educator for the 2009-2010 school year.

In the superintendent’s personnel report:

• April Cupp was removed from the substitute teacher list per her request.

• Chastity Fox submitted her resignation as program assistant II with the Early Steps Program at Beckham Bates Elementary School.

• Christy Boyd was employed as a speech/drama coach at LCCHS.

• Mitzi H. Kincer was named as head cheerleading coach at LCCHS.

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