At least 85% of seniors will graduate this year

Teachers with perfect attendance in April from Paramount Jr. High included Mrs. Doris Pope, Ms. Sheila Tillman, Ms. Regina Harmon and Mr. Jason Spinks, shown with Dr. Harriet Lewis, Principal and Superintendent Isaac Atkins. Having perfect attendance from Eutaw Primary was Ms. LaShaun Henley.

According to Greene County School Superintendent Isaac Atkins, a least 85% of this year’s senior class will graduate in May. This figure represents 20 more graduates than last year.
During this coming summer, there will be remediation classes for seniors who did not pass the required exams.
If, on completion of these classes, a student does pass the exams, a graduation exercise will be held at the high school in August.
The 86% graduation rate is the highest in recent years.
“Next year we will have to improve to 86% to make AYP,” said Atkins.
There were three special presentations made during the regular meeting of the Greene County Board of Education:
*Teachers who made a difference during the past month. These teachers are selected by the vote of their fellow teachers.
*Teachers who had perfect attendance for the past month.
*A retirement presentation to Ms. Nancy Cole who has taught in the system for 38 years.
In other business, the board:
*Approved a financial report showing an income of $927,118.90 and expenditures of $1,108,343.72. Cash and cash equivalency amounts to $4,387,175.73.
*Approved June 1, 2011 as a make-up work day for employees (pending approved of the State Superintendent).
*Approved the employment of Mrs. Patricia Coleman as Manager for the Summer Feeding Program at the rate of $10 per hour; the employment of Ms. Mary Hill, Ms. Leola Smith and Ms. Linda Davis as cooks for the Summer Feeding Program at $9 per hour and the employment of Ms.Linda Moore as Monitor/Janitor for the Summer Feeding Program.
*Approved sending letters of termination for all “Additional Services”.
*Approved non-renewal of Mrs. Sheanell Edwards as Math Intervention teacher at Paramount Jr. High.
*Approved non-renewal of all non-tenured employees,
*Approved teachers and bus drivers for the Summer Smart Camp, a 25 day program specifically designed to promote academic excellence for 4th and perspective 9th graders

School Board approves allowing contractor to pursue purchase of 43 acres for new high school

At a call meeting on Tuesday, April 5, the Greene County Board of Education voted unanimously to allow TCU Consulting to pursue the purchase of 43 acres on Highway 11 as a site for the new high school.
According to Superintendent Isaac Atkins, the location of the site cannot be revealed at this time.
Atkins also advised the board that on Monday, April 4, she had used the School Cast system to make approximately 2,000 calls to parents, staff and others involved in the school system to advise them that school would be closing early due to the inclement weather.
“The only problem we encountered was that some of the parents had changed their numbers and not notified the system. Each parent has a chance to put three numbers in the system, so they should notify us when their numbers change,” said Isaac.

2012 could be the worst year yet for schools, says Superintendent

Board member Leo Branch is presenting an award to teacher Regina Harmon. Awards will be presented on a monthly basis to teachers in every school in the system. The awardees will be selected by their peers as the teacher who made the biggest difference in their particular school during the preceeding month. Harmon was the only teacher selected who was present at Monday night’s meeting.

At the regular meeting of the Greene County School Board, Superintendent Isaac Atkins painted a grim picture of school finances statewide.
State funding has dropped by 20% in the past two years. In 2008, the state used all of its proration savings account; $1.8 billion in one-time emergency funding has been spent; many systems are having to borrow money just to meet payroll.
According to Atkins, Federal Stimulus money will be depleted by the end of this year; the Transportation budget has been at only 75% of need. There was $32 million in fleet renewal money, but that will no happen in 2012.
Greene faces an additional problem in that the population is shrinking. This is not due to people sending their children out of county for educational needs – it is due to the fact that the population of the entire county is shrinking as the job market weakens. There is a loss of 62 students predicted by 2012.
“We aren’t even retaining all of our live briths. This is one of the things we can’t solve. By 2012 we may have only 200 students in Greene County High School. When you lose children you lose teachers,” said Isaac.
She advised the board that some steps can be taken, including:
*Reducing staffing
*Seeking additional revenue wherever possible including applying for $11,782 from the Hurricane Recovery Act which was created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina;
*Refining the system’s RIF policy.
Board member Lester Brown asked that the board be made a part of helping keep the system “afloat.”
Another report by Isaac concerned Differentiated Instruction training had been provided for the teachers at Greene County High School. This will be done for teachers in all of the schools. Basically, this instruction trains teachers on how best to teach children on different learning levels to better serve several levels of skill in the same classroom.
She presented each board member an African American calender that features a different successful African American each month, naming Oscar Adams, Fred Shuttlesworth and Ethel Hall as some featured in the calendar.
She told them that every student and every teacher in the system had received a copy of the Black History special edition published by the Greene County Democrat and that Ethnic Studies is now an elective at Greene County High School.
In her financial statement, CFO Evelyn James told the board that there was a slight increase in January’s revenue, but that was due to tax payments during the month.
She said that Greenetrack had contributed in the form of grants from the Racing Commission. Brown emphasized that all of the schools should apply for this money on a regular basis.
Other items reported by Atkins included
*A contract with Teach for America which would provide a Spanish teacher, two math teachers, a reading teacher and a science teacher for next year.
*A program which would enable the system to offer seniors at Greene County High School a financial literacy class.
*A program provided by the Greene/Sumter EC entitled “Money Smart,” which will be given to 11th graders to improve their financial literacy.
Board Attorney Hank Sanders made the following recommendations and the following actions were taken:
Attorney Sanders proposed that Superintendent Atkins recommend to the board that the contract agreement with William & Associates (architects) be approved. The superintendent offered the recommendation. The board voted to approved the superintendent’s recommendation.
Attorney Sanders proposed that Superintendent Atkins recommend that the board rescind the contract with TCU & Associates. The superintendent offered the recommendation. The board approved the superintendent’s recommendation.
Attorney Sanders proposed that Superintendent Atkins recommend that the board approve a contract with TCU & Associates subject to the details being worked out with TCU, the superintendent, the board chairperson and the board’s attorney. The superintendent offered the recommendation. The board approved the recommendation.

School system faces a multitude of problems, but solutions are being pursued

In her report at the regular monthly meeting of the Greene County Board of Education, Superintendent Isaac Atkins discussed the academic accountability results in the system.

In 2007, said Atkins, the Greene County School System made AYP for the fourth consecutive year. and the high school graduation rate was 78%.

In the 2008/2009 school year, said Atkins, the system made AYP with Carver, Paramount and Eutaw Primary meeting 13 out of 13 goals and Greene County High School meeting 12 of 13 goals, which caused that individual school not to make AYP.

In 2008/2009, Paramount, Carver and  Eutaw Primary met 13 of 13 goals, but the high school only met 8 of 13 goals. The graduation rate also decreased and they did not make AYP in reading and math.

“A child can earn a credit-based diploma if they pass reading and math,” said Atkins.

As for the current Junior class at GCHS, 65% did not pass reading, 54% did not pass math, 73% did not pass language, 89% did not pass social studies and 27% need to pass biology.

“There are 104 juniors currently,” said Atkins. “92% must pass reading for the class to make AYP. 65% have already passed reading; an additional 27% must pass for the class to reach AYP in reading.

“”The class did not make AYP in math either. Only 46% of the students have passed math.”

According to Atkins of the 108 current juniors, only 20% could graduate today. The system has implemented some programs to help the students including assigning all teachers a group of students to mentor; individualizing school plans for all students so that they can work on the areas they need to even without the teachers being present.

“The principals need to improve the climate of the schools and do what is best for the children,” she said.

Atkins also was not able to paint a very bright picture of the financial condition.

Proration has been raised to 9.2%, with 2% coming out at one time at the last month of the year. “Most schools will need a financial miracle,” said Atkins.

Board chair Elzora Fluker asked Atkins how the Social Studies results looked and was told by Atkins that the students would take the test next week. “We hope to bring better results but our kids are not as focused as they should be.

Fluker spoke of seeing one student distracting the entire class. “If a student is in a class and he is distracting the class, I want him out of there. What are we going to do about that student?”“We are going to deal with it,” replied Isaac, adding that the Board of Education will meet again early next week.

Boardmember Lester Brown said he felt ROTC would be part of the answer to the problems facing the school.

“We’ve got a lot of things to fight – it’s not as simple as they aren’t doing it down there or they aren’t doing it up here,” he said.

“Are the parents involved?” asked Brown.

”Our parents follow kids in K-8 but when they become teens, they don’t seem to follow them as closely,” said Boardmember Leo Branch.

The board discussed several areas where improvement might begin such as removing athletes from teams if they don’t pass the necessary tests.

In other business, the board:

*Heard an Audit report from Shelley Patrenos, State of Alabama Examiners of Public Accounts.  She issued an unqualified report for the Federal Assistance Program for 9/30/09 and found no major problems with the Child Nutrition Program.

Some of the problems were that ongoing construction was not reported and at some schools deposits from money paid to teachers were not reconciled.

When it was revealed that no money had been received from simulcasting or bingo, it was suggested that a letter be sent to Greenetrack concerning its relationship with the Greene County Board of Education.

*Approved payment of all bills, claims and payroll.

Approved a medical leave requeset from Ms.Amelia Taylor, CNPmanager at Gteene County High School.

There being no further business, the board adjourned to meet in a call session on September 28.