2017-08-17 / Front Page

Ball reports to BOE on student growth after summer school reading program

This year’s successful summer school reading program warranted presentation to members of the Board of Education from Special Education Teacher Keri Ball, who highlighted student growth that was achieved during the three- week course. Ball also requested that members look into building up an even stronger program for next year.

“We had great success in our sum­mer reading program, we’re very proud of it, and the kids did great,” Ball said. “Our students collectively went up 154 points on their lexiles according to the SRI measure – that was an average of 17 points per student.”

She included that pre- and post- testing for specific student skills were conducted, along with pre- and post-lexile testing, which gages overall student reading levels. Data, however, was only used from students who participated in at least two-thirds of the program.

Ball likewise thanked the board and its support in making the sum­mer reading program happen in the first place.

The program was co-taught by Grace Ashmore, who focused on reading, whereas Bell honed in on student writing skills. The pair was accompanied by para profes­sionals Diana Paradise and Tonya Prescott.

Students also expressed their enjoyment of the program, which included unique hands-on activities, such as making slime as an experiment, a video book study, and other educational prompts.

A written statement from Ash­more said, “I would like to thank you for the opportunity to teach at the summer reading program. Students came to my class with the goal to extend their knowledge of writing, by writing open-ended responses. Writing can be difficult for students with disabilities, but through this program students were able to review skills that were taught throughout the year by practicing them daily. The program was a huge success.”

“We believe that the summer reading camp was a huge success, the student-teacher ratio was small enough that we were able to have one-on-one time to help each child correct and improve his or her read­ing and writing skills. We found that by incorporating hands-on ex­periments to write about the students became more excited about their writing. We hope that by attending this camp it will prevent the students from regressing to their former reading and writing skills,” both Paradise and Prescott added. “It was very rewarding to see them grow so much in a short time.”

Likewise, Bell noted, “So, why support our program? The Georgia Department of Education has done research and proven that there is regression for our students, about two to three months, so we want to try and prevent that. We are about preventing that regression and if there’s growth that’s great, and it proves that it can be minimized with more reading, so we think that something like this reading program can help that and help these students with that.”

Regarding future improvements, Bell explained that next year should include more incentives for atten­dance; more games and activities should be included; it should possibly include an educational field trip; and that it could possibly be expanded to include other struggling students, not just those in special education.

When asked what help the board could offer for the advancement of the program, Bell also noted that getting the word out sooner about the program would be beneficial, and that she hopes to collaborate with the middle and high school administrations to expand it to all three schools. She explained that she would want to consult the principles and their staffs, “to see what their needs would be, and what they would want to target,” so that they could “figure out a way to make it enticing for their students to come as well.”

In other business, the board voted to renew the annual CSRA RESA contract, which includes technical services, along with other educa­tional services.

Chairman Jason LeRoy noted that the renewal has already been budgeted for, it just needed to be officially renewed for FY18.

The board voted to replace the roof on the home press box at the football field, as it’s suffering from damaging leaks.

Having received four proposals in all, the lowest bidder, HBC Technol­ogy, LLC, was awarded the contract to install a tin roof – as opposed to a shingle roof – for $4,213.

Discussion was also given to the possible demolition of the agricul­tural building on the old high school campus.

Several bids were received for repairs of the building, but given its poor state, Superintendent Dr. Samuel Light suggested having it demolished instead.

No vote was taken, and the super­intendent will begin taking bids on the possible demolition.

Additionally, the board tabled the decision to have the roof repaired on the front of the old gymnasium.

While HBC was once again the lowest out of several bids – coming in at $32,864 – certain members of the board would like to walk through the building to further inspect the extent of the damage, given the costliness of the repair.

The gym is, however, used as a practice space and for other activi­ties when occasion arises.

As a part of her financial report, Director Kaye Bufford presented calculations from both the close of FY17, and on the recently com­menced FY18.

“I told you last month we’d still do some clean-up and additional accruals and payments that relate to the FY17 year, so this is not com­plete, but it’s getting a little closer to being final. We usually keep the books open until past the end of August because you can accrue up to 60 days, and then we close them in September,” Bufford said.

With 100 percent of the FY17 complete, revenues collected were recorded at 101.53 percent, totaling $11,587,035.67.

Expenditures were record­ed at 96.19 percent, totaling $11,836,054.09.

“We’re still well within the limit of the expenditures, which leaves us with a fund balance of $2.46 million at the end of the FY17 year,” Buf­ford said.

For the FY18, Bufford explained that the new budget is already in place, noting that 8.33 percent of the fiscal year is complete, and that 6.23 percent of revenues have been collected.

“On our expenditure we’re at 7.63 percent, which is reasonable at the 8.33 percent mark. You know some of those are higher, and I always point this out at the beginning of the year, but we pay a lot of the insur­ance and software at the beginning of the year, so some of those will be higher than the monthly percentage, but they’re still within reason as far as the budget is concerned,” the director said. “By using those rev­enues and expenditures it gives us a about a $235,000 negative balance for the month, and I looked back at last year and we were at negative $250,000, so we’re right where we were last year using our expendi­tures against our revenues.”

SPLOST collections for July were $55,262.62, with $304,769.00 available in the SPLOST balance. The director pointed out that there is $558,445.15 in the bond tax ac­count, totaling $863,215.14 that are available for future bond and interest payments.

Regarding capital projects, Buf­ford noted that several new items are awaiting approval.

Additionally, each school princi­pal submitted financial reports for the final quarter of FY17 ending in June, which were also reviewed by the board.

The next meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Education will take place on Tuesday, September 12, beginning at 7 p.m. at the board office.

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