Fayette school board 03.23.2011

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Fayette Board of Education members received a brief overview Monday of the federal Race To The Top (RTTT) program that now includes Ohio schools.

High school teacher Pam Wise and Educational Service Center consultant Sally Kovar spoke about changes ahead in Fayette.

Kovar is pleased that Fayette’s board voted to join in the program because many of the changes will be mandated by the state for all schools. Since Fayette signed on to the program, the district will receive funding to help pay for much of the work coming up.

The district should receive about $25,000 in each of the next four years—and maybe an additional $14,000 made available by some districts dropping out of the program—but she cautioned the board that guidelines are very specific on how the money may be spent.

For the most part, funding will be spent for professional development. The money could be used to hire substitute teachers who would work while the regular teacher attends a professional development session, but it couldn’t be used to hire a new teacher.

Ohio’s chief goals are to improve graduation rates, improve performance on state and national assessments, and reduce the gap between Ohio and the best-performing schools in the nation.

Fayette will also work to revise existing curricula to make it align with state standards. Documents known as “curriculum crosswalk” will guide staff to make the transition to new standards.

Fayette’s “transformation team”—consisting of seven staff members, board member Karen King and Kovar—will lead the district’s efforts.

Value added assessment will be used to measure a student’s growth in skills from year to year. Traditional assessment measures achievement only on a single test such as an end-of-the-year test.

The process is very data-driven, Kovar said.

“As we collect data on students, we’ll begin to see trends, both good and bad,” she said.

That data will help determine the focus of professional development needs.

The district must commit to a comprehensive evaluation system for both teachers and principals. This will be partially tied to student achievement.

Staff evaluation results will be used in employment and tenure decisions, but staff will be given ample time to improve, Kovar said.

Many features of staff evaluation are already in place, she said, and part of the process is self-evaluation.

BUDGET—Superintendent of schools Russ Griggs told the board that per-pupil support is expected to increase for the next school year, but other support will decrease.

AUDIT—District treasurer Kelly Bentley said the district received a clean audit report from the state.

ENROLLMENT—Elementary principal Dr. Luann Boyer was encouraged with the kindergarten registration number of 37, which is higher than usual at this time of the school year.

ELECTRONICS—High school principal Dan Feasel said to expect continuing changes in policy governing electronic devices in schools as the devices themselves change. He said he’s had fewer problems with cell phone usage this year.

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