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By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
The Oktibbeha County School Board met Monday evening to handle business before the school year begins in just a few short weeks.
Superintendent JamesCovington said the board would ask the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors to levy the necessary millage over five years to pay for the districtâ€™s new buses at a total cost of $450,200.
The cost works out to just over $90,000 a year over five years.
The district will purchase four new and four used buses to help phase out some of the older models.
Each campus will receive one new and one used bus each to add to their fleet for the coming school year.
In other board business, it approved new handbooks for both students and staff.
The most notable change for the upcoming year is the districtâ€™s new grading policy, which the board approved over the summer.
The new policy states students cannot receive a grade lower than a 55 percent within the first nine weeks of the school year, which was adopted to prevent students from falling too far behind early in the school year, Covington said.
The policy also redistributes the weight certain assignments or tests are given in a final grade.
Daily in-class assignments and homework now account for 50 percent of the grade, while weekly tests and nine-week tests each make up 25 percent.
Teachers are required to give at least eight in-class assignments, five weekly tests and one nine-week test per grading period.
The board approved two separate insurance plans for the coming school year. The primary insurance plan will cost the district $69,977, which is $13,000 less than they spent last year for the same coverage. They also chose to add another plan to cover students in case anything should happen on a school bus or during any school function when the students are under teacher supervision.
After requests from parents throughout the district, the board approved a change to the school uniform policy that will allow students to wear black shirts. Previously, the policy only allowed white or blue shirts, but parents felt it was appropriate since black is part of the school colors for both sides of the district.
Covington said that a recent walk-through of the new district office at 106 Main St. in Starkville revealed that all problems were addressed, and he expects his office will be ready to move in by July 29. The superintendent and the district staff originally planned to be in the new office by the end of June, but an inspection of the building highlighted a number of issues, which Covington described as mainly cosmetic, that prevented the move.
The board will hold a public hearing on the districtâ€™s budget for the 2011-2012 school year on Aug. 1 at 5 p.m. in the superintendentâ€™s old office at 800-A Louisville St.
The board will adopt the budget on Aug. 8 in a special meeting.