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Policy adjustments lead SSD’s agenda

October 2, 2012

The Starkville School District Board of Trustees will discuss amendments to several school board policies at its 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday in the Greensboro Center.

The first amendment on the board’s agenda is a revision to the district’s mission statement, vision and goals, which the board discussed at a special meeting Sept. 18. At that time, SSD Superintendent Lewis Holloway asked the board to update its goal of becoming a high-performing district by 2012, with 65 percent of all students scoring proficient or above on state tests. This goal will change to becoming a high-performing district by 2017, with 85 percent of students scoring proficient or above, and Holloway said he expects more changes in the future.

“These goals need to greatly change; these are just little tweaks to make it fit what the district has right now,” Holloway said. “As we move forward this year, I expect we’re going to have a lot of discussion of what the school district’s goals for the future are going to be.”

Holloway said the district will also consider amending its requirements for long-term substitute teachers. Previously, he said, such substitute teachers only had to be certified teachers and did not need expertise in the subjects they taught.

“You might have a substitute teacher in an algebra class that didn’t have the math background to teach algebra,” Holloway said. “We’re changing that. When we have long-term substitutes, they (will be) required to be highly qualified when they’re working in state-tested areas. Their rates would be $160 per day after the first 15 days.”

One of the amendments up for discussion is a matter of compliance with a change at the state level, Holloway said. This amendment will prevent faculty from donating their earned leave or sick leave hours to faculty in other school districts, only allowing them to make those donations to faculty in their same school district.

“Let’s say someone had a catastrophic illness and was going to be out for a year,” Holloway said. “This policy allows friend teachers to (donate leave hours to that person.) Sometimes, if a husband and wife who are teachers have a baby, one parent might donate time to another to take care of the baby.”

Another change is a formality for the sake of consistency, Holloway said. Currently, he said, students who fail a course with a score of at least 65 have their score raised to a passing 70 if they pass the state’s test in the same subject area.

“Last year, we changed our grading scale to a 10-point scale, so now a 60 passes a course,” Holloway said. “(So, the policy will now say) students passing a state test but failing a course with at least a 55 will be assigned a 60 to pass the class.”

The agenda also contains multiple payments exceeding $500 each from activity accounts for the board’s approval, totaling more than $26,000. These range from $7,289.11 for Smart Music Educator and Smart Music Student subscriptions for Armstrong Middle School’s band to $511.50 for student Future Farmers of America sweatshirts. Board President Keith Coble said it is common for several student activity expenses to appear at once during the fall months.

“There are a lot of student organizations and a lot of classes that are engaged,” Coble said. “When you bring them all to the board at one time, it does seem like a large number, but we’ve just got a lot of activities going on in the district. It will stay fairly active through the end of the school year.”

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