Board of Education receives reports from staff at Marlinton Elementary and Hillsboro
The Board of Education met on Monday at Marlinton Elementary to hear reports from the school faculty and staff.
MES Principal Ron Hall, who is in his first year as the schoolﾒs head, opened the meeting by stating how proud he is of the staff at the school.ﾠ He introduced the new teachers at MES this year, Barbara Beard and Michelle Fehrer, and recognized Margaret Worth, Teacher of the Year for 2005-06.
Amanda Hicks, President of the schoolﾒs PTO, gave a report on the groupﾒs activities. She said the PTO provides funds for snacks for the pre-school and kindergarten students,ﾠ Reading is Fundamental program which provides books for the students, and for the bus which takes the fourth grade students on their trip to Charleston.
She said the main goal of the PTO this year is to raise funds to overhaul the playground at the school.ﾠ A rough estimate of the amount needed is $83,000, Ms. Hicks told the Board.
Mr. Hall noted some the academic achievements at MES.ﾠ He said the school met Annual Yearly Progress requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act for the 2005-06 school year and has been named as a Title I Distinguished School for 2006.
He said MES students did wellﾠ on the writing assessment given to the fourth grade students, with a 75% mastery level.ﾠ On the Westest taken by third and fourth grade students, MES mastery score for mathematics was 76% and for reading and language the school had a 86% mastery level score.ﾠﾠﾠ
Kathy Snyder reported that in September 70% of the third graders already ﾓbench markedﾔﾠ in reading, meaning they were already at the level required at the end of the school year.
Mr. Hall said the school is looking for gains in the writing and mathematics scores this year.ﾠ He noted that he personally cannot take credit for the academic achievements at MES up to this time - former principal Wilma Dale and the teachers are the ones deserving the recognition.
A list of the needs at MES was given to the Board by Mr. Hall, starting with a request for full-time guidance counselor.ﾠ He pointed out that at this time the school has a counselor for half a day, three days a week.ﾠ With the schoolﾒs enrollment of 254, there are only 2.1 minutes of counseling time per student available.
The principal said MES is at the bottom of the list in the county for counseling services and this is his main concern for the school.ﾠ Several of the staff members supported this request. They said that although it is often thought that an elementary school does not need counselors, this is not the case.ﾠ Students of all ages bring problems to school and it is frustrating not to have the training or time to be able to help them, they stated.
Other needs at the school are more time for teachers at the different grade levels to collaborate and more instruction in the new Respect and Protect Program.
Mr. Hall also stressed the need to upgrade the playground, noting that it is presently in terrible shape.ﾠ He pointed out some of problems and provided Board members with visual evidence of them.ﾠ Mr. Hall reminded Board members that the playground serves both the largest elementary school in the community and the Marlinton community.
Appreciation was expressed to the Board for the full-time health nurse, Jenny Friel.ﾠ Mr. Hall said she does a wonderful job at his school.
Board President Kenneth Vance asked about the math program that was introduced last school year and what efforts have been made to communicate with parents about the program.
Teachers noted there had been some difficulties, for both them and the students, last year with the new program but they were mostly over for this year.ﾠ The agreement was that the new program should improve the math skills of the students.ﾠﾠ Communication with parents on the new program was by letters and invitations to conferences.
Lauren Bennett, the parent of a student at MES, noted that there were some problems last year, but she is seeing this year that her second grader knows more math than his sixth grade sister did at the same level
There was a general discussion between Board members and MES staff members on ways to getting more parents to visit the school and discuss with teachers the progress their children are making.
Reta Griffith discussed the excess levy on the ballot that will provide funds for Senior Citizens programs in the county and urged those at the meeting to support it.
Also appearing before the Board was Tom Smith with the state Treasurerﾒs office, who made a brief presentation on the Tax Advantage College Savings Plan that can help parents provide for higher education costs.
The Board met at the Hillsboro School on October 9 for a similar meeting.
Hillsboro Principal Gary Pillow, who is also a new principal in the county this year, introduced his staff and made a Power Point presentation on recent activities at the school.
Susan McMillion, Chairperson of the Hillsboro Local School Improvement Council, reported that the goalsﾠ of the LSIC are to recreate a yearbook for the school, seek additional instruction in art and music, and increase the length of time for teacher planning periods.
The president of the Hillsboro PTO, Shawn Jacobs, told the Board that the group had recently provided $1000 for preschool equipment.ﾠ Future activities planned include a Halloween party in October and a craft day in December, he said.
Dr. Pillow thanked the schoolﾒs business partners, First Citizens Bank and Boxley, for their assistance.
He then reviewed the academic achievements of Hillsboro students on tests given last year.ﾠ The fourth graders scored 67% on the writing assessment. On the state administered Westest, the mastery of mathematics was at 64.8% and the reading mastery was 89.1%, Dr. Pillow reported.ﾠ He said all these results were an increase over previous years.
The school has recently received an award from the National Reading First Association in recognition of the schoolﾒs high achievement in Reading First scores, Dr. Pillow stated.
Dona Saffer discussed the status of the Reading First and special education programs at the school.
Each classroom at Hillsboro has been equipped with a ﾓSmartboardﾔ and Darlene Arbogast gave a demonstration on its uses in classes.
Dr. Pillow gave the Board a list of needs at Hillsboro.ﾠ These are additional collaboration time for teachers, a half-time physical education teacher, additional instruction in music and art, and air conditioning for the computer lab and classrooms.
The meeting ended with questions from the Board on the new math program and the Respect and Protect Program. In regard to the new math program, it was agreed that a new approach to instruction was needed and more communication with parents would be beneficial.
Teachers indicated they thought the Respect and Protect program was going well but there were parents who had concerns.
The Board will meet on November 6 at Marlinton Middle School to hear reports from the staff of that school.
- - -