Board receives updates from state, honors its own

First Posted: 1/20/2009

Morgan Wall
Staff Reporter

Tuesday night was one of awards and recognition during the Mount Airy Board of Education meeting.
Sandy George, principal of Mount Airy High School, and coaches from the football team were recognized and presented certificates noting their accomplishments in winning the state football championship as well as for the quality students they help to mentor.
Vivian France and Sharon Smith, both teachers at B.H. Tharrington Primary School, were also honored for completing their National Board Certification.
Dr. Darrin Hartness, superintendent, also mentioned that the Mount Airy Middle School boys and girls swim teams won their conference championship in Pilot Mountain recently.
Two changes to the 2009-10 calendar were approved by the board and the calendar will soon be posted on the systems Web site. The school improvement team, which helped create the calendar, decided to add three early release days into the calendar just as they did for the 2008-09 school year. Those days have proven to be beneficial for teachers in helping them to have time to communicate with other teachers about the best ways to do things.
The committee also decided to move the teachers work day scheduled for Nov. 6 to Oct. 26. This change will put the work day shortly before the end of the first nine weeks. The reason for this change is the school systems implementation of parent/teacher conferences in the coming school year.
The State Board of Education recently made some changes to the way student accountability is measured regarding end-of-grade and end-of-course-tests. Students have always had the opportunity to retest during summer school. However, those retests have not been counted as part of the percent of students proficient in the subject matter for the school.
With the new policy, students who pass the first retest will be able to be counted in the percent proficient. This policy will begin with the current semester for students in grades three through eight. It will begin in the fall semester for grades nine through 12.
The school system has recently finished its conversion to the NCWISE student tracking system for all school-related data. The conversion will see its first true test today as high school students begin a new semester with new class schedules.
According to Hartness, the data was in great shape as the NCWISE conversion crew went through the schools over winter break to begin the transition. The schools lost very little data, which is a major accomplishment as many schools across the state have lost large sections of data.
I am confident things will go just fine tomorrow, he said of the high school.
Wendy Carriker, chairwoman, attended a called meeting of the State Board of Education recently which discussed the fines and forfeitures money owed to schools by the state government. It was recently discovered that the University of North Carolina system has $18 million in escrow and the state board has asked that that money be released towards the fines and forfeitures. They also asked that the balance owed to the schools come from the rainy day fund set up by the General Assembly. All fines and forfeitures money has been earmarked for technology and would be divided according to ADM, or per pupil.
I dont think thats going to happen, said Carriker of asking for the balance to come from the rainy day fund.
It is still unsure whether or not the money in escrow will be released.
The state board also decided to vote in opposition to a policy that would require all students to have at least one art credit in order to graduate. Mount Airy City Schools already has this requirement. She noted that the reason for the opposition was not to oppose arts in the schools but because the mandate is unfunded.
Teachers are beginning to look into purchasing textbooks for the next school year. The big purchase will be new math textbooks for kindergarten through fifth grade. This is according to a timeline set forth by the state. There will also be new books purchased at the middle school and high school levels but not for any of the core courses.
The teachers are actively involved in the textbook adoptions. We hope to be able to make a recommendation on Feb. 3 and start ordering, said Vickie Cameron, executive director of instruction.
Hartness also noted that with the recent peanut butter recall, the school nutrition program has stopped serving products containing peanut butter for the time being. However, the system has been assured by the commodities and grocery distributors that none of their products have been affected by the recall.
The school system is also on budget for this point in the school year and will remain so barring any further budgeting cuts.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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