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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Results of the Rock Hill School Board Retreat on Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Board took action on the following items:

Voted 7-0 to approve a contract to upgrade HVAC controls at Saluda Trail Middle School in the amount of $18,610.

Voted 7-0 to replace and upgrade the boiler at Rock Hill High School in the amount of $258,350.

Took no action on a roofing bid for Finley Road in the amount of $282,100.

The board received updated information on free and reduced lunch and race. Free and reduced lunch numbers are up this year. Four schools are at the +/- limit of 15% from the district average (54%). One less than the number of schools last year. Race numbers for the district were presented as follows; white 54%; African American 35%; Hispanic 6%; Asian 2%; American Indian 2%; white African American 1%; all others (white Asian, white Indian, African American Indian, Pacific Islander) <1%.

The administration took suggestions from the board on how to revise their proposed policy on populating schools. A possible wording is listed below:


Policy

Reassignment of Students

Code JCR Issued DRAFT8/09

Purpose: To establish the basic structure to reassign students to schools.

In order to provide equal access to quality educational opportunities for all students, the Board is committed to providing necessary and adequate resources, to include materials, technology, and personnel, to all district schools. School assignments are made to maximize use of school facilities and support diverse populations. Students are assigned to schools within the attendance zone of their residence. The Board believes in the philosophic goal of maintaining meaningful diversity within the school system. Triggers will be; building capacity; the number of students receiving free and/or reduced lunch supplement; student performance on state achievement tests and; student proximity to the school. Parents should not expect that their school of initial enrollment will be their child's school for all of the elementary, middle, or high school years, as attendance zones are subject to change. Should reassignment occur, the Board does make a commitment to students and parents to:

• make every reasonable and practical effort to avoid reassignment of children

• begin the reassignment process in the fall of the year preceding implementation of a new reassignment plan

Prior to the start of the school year, the superintendent shall prepare an annual report, to review school population in individual schools to include the percentage of students receiving free and/or reduced lunch supplement, state test scores, and student distribution. In addition, the administration will review student distribution data to ensure that no school is in racial isolation.

Attendance areas are available from the Planning Department and can be viewed on the district Web-site at: http://www.rock-hill.k12.sc.us.

Adopted
Legal references:
A. S. C. Code, 1976, as amended:

1.Section 59-19-90(9) - Board can determine school for pupil to attend.

Civil Action - cite case

Friday, August 28, 2009

Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll Results Are Out

The Phi Delta Kappa Poll results are out. You can see a summary of the results here. You can also read one bloggers comments on the Public School Insights blog.

Some highlights:
  • 90% of Americans believe the dropout rate is the most important or one of the most important problems facing high schools today
  • They are against "lifetime contracts" for teachers but believe in formal review procedures before termination.
  • They believe in merit pay for teachers based on student performance but also for increased pay for advancement in development (masters degrees, ect.).
  • There is little support for No Child Left Behind
  • Newspapers and school employees are the top two sources of information about schools.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rock Hill School Board August 29 Retreat Agenda

The Agenda for the Saturday, August 29, 2009 Rock Hill School Board retreat can be found here
and below:
SCHOOL BOARD RETREAT




LOCATION: District Office



START: 9:00 a.m.



DATE: August 29, 2009






ITEM# AGENDA TOPIC DISCUSSION LEADER
1 Review board opinions captured from last retreat meeting Dr. Kokolis



2 Review current school enrollment data - F/R lunch Dr. Kokolis



3 Review of 2003 mediation agreement impact on reassignment policy Mr. John Reagle, Childs and Halligan



4 Review of draft policy Dr. Kokolis



5 Board discussion and modifications Bob Norwood



6 Operations Projects - Bid Approval Bill Mabry/Mike Armour
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The information below is background for the meeting. The example policy being presented by the administration has not been discussed by the board. The excerpts at the end of the policy are from the district's 2003 memorandum of agreement over an earlier elementary school assignment issue. You should review existing policies JBCC and CBC. If significant changes are made, they most likely will come out of this meeting. You should discuss, or send questions, to a board member in advance of the meeting.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Policy

Reassignment of Students

Code JCR Issued DRAFT8/09

Purpose: To establish the basic structure to reassign students to schools.

In order to provide equal access to quality educational opportunities for all students, the Board is committed to providing necessary and adequate resources, to include materials, technology, and personnel, to all district schools. School assignments are made to maximize use of school facilities and support diverse populations. Students are assigned to schools within the attendance zone of their residence. The Board believes in the philosophic goal of maintaining balance within the school system, as related to school capacity, the number of students receiving free and/or reduced lunch supplement, student performance on state achievement tests and student proximity to the school. Parents should not expect that their school of initial enrollment will be their child's school for all of the elementary, middle, or high school years, as attendance zones are subject to change. Should reassignment occur, the Board does make a commitment to students and parents to:

• make every reasonable and practical effort to reassign children only once during their elementary school years

• begin the reassignment process in the fall of the year preceding implementation of a new reassignment plan

The superintendent shall prepare an annual report, to review school population in individual schools to include the percentage of students receiving free and/or reduced lunch supplement, state test scores, and student distribution. When a school demonstrates a marked increase or decrease (margin of 15% elementary, 10% middle school, 5% high school) of free/reduced lunch supplement population; or decreased or sustained low state test scores over time; or should a school exceed capacity to the degree of overcrowding; the superintendent will make recommendations for reassignment of students. In addition, the administration will review student distribution data to ensure that no school is in racial isolation, where the school racial population varies from the District's system wide racial average by more than +/ 30% or whose population is 80% or more of any one race, whichever is the smaller percentage difference.

The director of technology will be responsible for updating attendance area maps annually to reflect any changes in boundary maps or shifts in demographics within the map planning segments.

In the event of an emergency, the decision to redistrict a school because of extenuating circumstances will take place, as indicated by the emergency, with immediate action taken.

Attendance areas are available from the Planning Department and can be viewed on the district Web-site at: http://www.rock-hill.k12.sc.us.

Adopted
Legal references:
A. S. C. Code, 1976, as amended:

1.Section 59-19-90(9) - Board can determine school for pupil to attend.

Civil Action - cite case

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
excepts from memorandum:

Terms and Conditions
2......."The School District shall not employ numerical racial quotas or targets in the assignment of students in any future SAP, including future high school and middle school SAP's."
3......"the School District shall eliminate all noncontiguous satellite zones based on race, unless the School District cannot alleviate the racial isolation of a given school or schools through the use of reasonably drawn contiguous attendance zones. The term racial isolation as used in this paragraph shall refer to a school whose population varies from the District's systemwide racial average by more than +/-30% or whose population is 80% or more of any one race, whichever is the smaller percentage difference."
5......"the School District agrees that race will not be the predominant factor in the assignment of students to its schools."

Rock Hill High School's Jonathan Meeks Is Making The Grade at Clemson


Former Rock Hill High School athlete Jonathan Meeks is getting a lot of good preseason press at Clemson where they expect him to see a good bit of playing time as a freshman. You can read two recent articles here. Anderson Independent Mail and The State Newspaper.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Education Blogs

There are a lot of blogs that deal with education issues. This site has some links if you have an interest.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Results of The Rock Hill School Board August 24, 2009 Meeting

At the August Business Meeting of The Rock Hill School Board, the following action was taken;

approved the minutes of the July 27 school board meeting, personnel recommendations, and disbursement of Jim Vining's board compensation for July through December (vote was 7-0);

approved the long-term use of the Resource Center's annex for the 2009-10 school year for the partnership agencies that occupy the facility and not charge utility costs for the current year. The board also agreed that any expenditures on the facility exceeding $20,000 must come back before the board for approval (vote was 7-0). The district must notify agencies by mid-year if utilities will be charged for the next year. District Operations staff will investigate why the 3,400 sq. ft. facility has utility costs in excess of $12,000 per year and the administration is to have a work session discussion on a potential sale of the property;

approved a request from the Boys and Girls Club for the long-term use of facilities in all middle schools for after-school programs for middle school students (vote was 7-0);

the board took no action on a request to spend nearly $600,000 for capital projects at Finley Road (roofing), Rock Hill High (boiler replacement), and Saluda Trail (HVAC control repairs) when the administration could not answer all the board's questions. The administration will include this topic on the agenda for the August 29 retreat. A vote is expected.

The following was presented during the meeting;

recognized Rock Hill School Teachers of the Year;

heard a representative from the First Steps program request the board forgo charging utility costs during 2009-10 to the programs that now occupy the Resource Center's annex building because budgets had already been completed;

heard Sam Foster, a former educator, principal, and state legislature, talk on the value of balance;

heard Chris Causey, sales manager with Roofers Supply of Greenville, Inc., suggest the board get additional roofing products approved, and interview more roofing consultants, to take advantage of potential savings.

heard Dr. John Hoitink ask the board to slow down the process of approving a policy on reassignment to allow more time for public feedback. (His letter to the Board is at the end of this post);

listened to Joy Bower, lead school nurse, talk about the H1N1 virus. Nurse Bower stated there are scattered cases in our schools which are being addressed by school nurses.

listened to a report by Sheila Huckabee, executive director of secondary education, and administrators from each high school on the results of AP, IB, and dual credit testing during last school year.

•Rock Hill Schools will be closed on Mon., Sept. 7, in observance of Labor Day.

•"Open House" in our secondary schools is scheduled from 6:30-8:00 p.m. on the following dates:

All middle schools – Thursday, August 27

All high schools – Monday, September 14

Applied Technology Center – Tuesday, September 15

•Sat., Aug. 29, is the date for the school board's retreat and the continuation of a discussion on topics related to a new student reassignment policy. The retreat will be held in the Board Room in the district office.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Board Members,


Thank you for allowing me time to speak tonight about the school reassignment issue.

I requested to address the board tonight prior to the release of the formal reassignment policy because it appears to be on a fast track to be confirmed by a second reading in October. Additionally the upcoming retreat this Saturday is "Listen-only." I believe public interest will rise over the coming weeks but will come too late to be incorporated into the policy. Therefore I ask the board to delay the second reading if public feedback warrants this over the next few weeks.

Reassignment currently is based on the necessity of forming a new attendance zone for a new school. The new policy will create a tool that will reassign individual students when an unbalanced variable measured in the whole school fails to "Change over time." I expect when the policy is unveiled that evidence justifying a net benefit to students will be provided. Each variable in the formula should be used only if proof of a net benefit can be provided. The cost of school reassignment is not just disruption of an individual student's education. Large amounts of political capital, time and budget resources must be invested by the district in each reassignment. There is often a demoralizing effect on parent involvement in the child's school and a migration out of the public school system by some families. For this reason, I feel the district has acted wisely by trying to monitor the Oakdale and Mt. Holly situation rather than rushing to reassignment.

Most educators and parents would agree moving students between schools should be a last resort when other solutions such as natural shift, targeting of additional resources and magnet schools fail. I applaud the school district's use of magnet schools which engage families and can prevent forced relocation of students. These better alternatives usually take years to work and therefore I would ask that the final policy include a statement specifying a minimum number of years that less drastic options should be used before we reassign students. We should also specify the minimum number of years before a school can be up for another reassignment. However, a great concern about this policy is that even though no reassignment may be immediately warranted after application of the new policy we will have appeared to set the precedent of allowing reassignment to happen after a single year of monitoring - that is the earliest interpretation of "Change over time" as I understand it. We may then be subject to challenges, legal or otherwise, to frequently reassign students. As an example of the long term effects of public policy, the restrictions created by a 2003 legal settlement based on race will likely weigh upon this new policy.

The actual disruption of a student's education and also just the parent's fear of this can have a very negative impact on the participation of motivated families. These families put in extra time at their schools raising the chance of success for all students. Just one more uncertainty could push more families into private school. Or, worse yet, also take their public funding with them by moving to Fort Mill or enrolling in the new charter school opening in 2010.1 attended the initial meetings during the formation of the new charter school and there were a large number of parents in attendance who spoke of being moved multiple times when they were students in our city's public schools. The charter school of course solves that problem.

In closing, I ask the board to slow down the reassignment process as necessary to allow for public feedback, provide evidence of benefit, and include language that would generally ensure several years between reassignments. By doing this I feel you will retain the participation of motivated families in our school system. I look forward to following this issue closely. I wish to thank the educators and board members here tonight for your obvious dedication to our children and the future of our community.

Sincerely,

John C. Hoitink, MD

2009 SAT Results Have Been Released

The 2009 SAT Results are out. Newspapers across the country will be writing stories about one and two point differences (which have no meaning) and will be using SAT scores to compare schools. SAT scores are a better indicator of economic conditions than of the quality of the schools. Never-the-less, York County results are listed below:


South Carolina Public School District Distribution

Mean SAT Scores for 2009

* (--) Scores are not reported for Schools with less than five students testing.

District Test Takers # in Class % Tested Mean Scores
District Rank Verbal Math Writing Composite
2 YORK 4 - FORT MILL 350 568 62% 532 543 511 1586
7 YORK 2 - CLOVER 180 400 45% 508 520 488 1515
25 YORK 1 108 318 34% 492 502 470 1464
42 YORK 3 - ROCK HILL 551 1173 47% 477 486 457 1419

South Carolina Public School Distribution
Mean SAT Scores for 2009
* (--) Scores are not reported for Schools with less than five students testing.
Rank School Test Takers # in Class % Tested Mean Scores
Verbal Math Writing Composite
9 FORT MILL HIGH SCHOOL 173 307 56% 535 543 514 1592
11 NATION FORD HIGH SCHOOL 177 261 68% 530 543 507 1581
31 CLOVER HIGH SCHOOL 180 400 45% 508 520 488 1515
60 YORK COMPREHENSIVE HIGH SCHOOL 108 318 34% 492 502 470 1464
96 ROCK HILL HIGH SCHOOL 183 445 41% 485 490 462 1437
105 NORTHWESTERN HIGH SCHOOL 202 410 49% 477 484 458 1418
115 SOUTH POINTE HIGH SCHOOL 166 318 52% 467 483 451 1401

Remembering a Great American. Bob Hope

This was forwarded to me by a friend. What does this have to do with education? Maybe more than SAT scores.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Do Schools (or Teachers) Know How To Improve?

Join in on this interesting discussion by visiting "Thoughts on Education Policy". Their Sunday Post has some interesting angles. You can view it by clicking here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Public Opinion on ACT Results

The Public Agenda has some interesting comments on the priorities parents put on education. Comments are below:

The latest ACT scores are another poke in the ribs to those who worry that American students are falling behind in math and science. But Public Agenda's research makes us wonder whether those who need to be nudged the most -- parents -- will feel a thing.

The ACT report notes slight improvements overall but found a "lack of college readiness is again most evident in the areas of science and math." Only 28 percent of the students who took the ACT are ready for college biology and 42 percent are ready for college algebra. By contrast, more than two-thirds are ready for college-level English composition.

Scott Bittle, in a blog posting, points out that one of the biggest obstacles in attacking this problem is something we've run into again and again in our research and public engagement work: the public and experts are coming at this issue from different perspectives.

Our
Reality Check surveys have found that most parents believe their child is doing all right in school. Nearly seven in 10 believe their child will have the skills needed to succeed in college, and six in 10 say their child is getting a better education than they did.

Parents certainly don't think their local schools are flawless. They support efforts to increase math and science courses (67 percent) and say it's "crucial for today's students to learn higher level math skills" (62 percent).

But their biggest concern isn't academics. It's
social problems and student behavior. When asked about the most pressing problem facing local high schools, 73 percent of the parents said "social problems and kids who misbehave" compared to only 15 percent who said "low academic standards." Low income parents are even more concerned. Nearly three-quarters worry "a lot" about protecting their kids from drugs and alcohol, compared to 56 percent who worry a lot about low quality public schools.

So solving the math and science problem means addressing both types of concerns about what goes on in school: growing tomorrow's scientists and keeping an eye on how they behave. There are ways of bridging this gap, by using
public engagement to build support for change. Because there's no way of solving this math and science equation unless everyone gets on the same page.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Light Meeting For Rock Hill School Board on August 24th

Meeting of the Board of Trustees

Monday, August 24, 2009

6:00 p.m. – District Office Board Room

A G E N D A

I. Call to Order

Approval of Agenda

(Under consent agenda, all action items will be voted on after one motion and second to approve them without discussion. If a board member wants any action item discussed or voted on separately, the board member, before the agenda is approved, must ask that the action item be moved to the discussion item section.)

II. Citizen Participation

III. Executive Session

IV. Special Business

A. Recognition of Teachers of the Year

V. Consent Action Agenda

A. Approval of Minutes

1. July 27, 2009 business meeting

B. Approval of Personnel Recommendations

C. Approval of Distribution of Jim Vining’s Board Compensation to; Carrol School; Northwestern High School math department; South Pointe High School math department; Rock Hill High School math department; Elementary School Honors Choir; Middle School Honors Choir.

VI. Communications

A. Past and Present Need for Balance – Sam Foster

B. Roofing Procedures – Chris Causey, Roofers Supply of Greenville

C. Reassignment – Dr. John C. Hoitink

VII. Report of the Superintendent

A. Announcements

B. Opening of School Report

C. Climate Report

D. Health Report

E. AP / IB Report

F. State Revenue Update

VIII. Review of Work Session – There was no work session in August.

IX. Action Agenda

A. Long Term Use of Facilities – Resource Center Annex Building

B. Long Term Use of Facilities – Middle School After School Clubs

C. Operations Projects/Bid Approvals

X. Other Business

XI. Adjourn

The district has a copy of the agenda which you can access if you Click here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Do Teachers Need Education Degrees?

The New York Times has opened up the debate over the value of an education degree. Read the discussion by clicking here.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Can Science and Religion Co-exist?

The Ethics Daily Blog has a post which I'm including because it is an issue which comes up from time to time. What do you think? You can visit their site by clicking here.

Clergy Letter Project: Science, Bible Can Co-Exist
Clergy Letter Project: Science, Bible Can Co-Exist | Jim Evans, Clergy Letter Project, Evolution, Education

Nearly 12,000 signatures from Christian clergy along with 650 signers from other faith traditions have signed the Clergy Letter Project affirming the teaching of evolution.
The Clergy Letter Project began in 2004 when Michael Zimmerman, a biologist, along with several clergy in Wisconsin, became alarmed about a series of anti-evolution policies passed by the school board in Grantsburg. Scientists and clergy, working together, issued a statement affirming the teaching of evolution.

From there the group continued to grow and eventually composed a letter for clergy nationwide to sign. The organization now lists nearly 12,000 signatures from Christian clergy along with 650 signers from other faith traditions.

The letter is so well done, and so important, I decided to post it in full. Here is the Clergy Letter Project.

"Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark convey timeless truths about God, human beings and proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.


EthicsDaily.com's Featured Resource


Questions Jesus Asked (Student Guide 1-20 copies)



"
We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably co-exist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as 'one theory among others' is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God's good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our creator. To argue that God's loving plans of salvation for humanity preclude the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different,but complementary, forms of truth."

This is the sort of balanced reason which this debate needs. No scare tactics, no political arm-twisting, simply a straightforward affirmation of what nearly every credible scientist knows to be the truth.

The Clergy Letter Project is housed on a web site at Butler University in Indianapolis, where Zimmerman now serves as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In addition to the letter,the site offers scientific resources for understanding evolution as well as resources for clergy,including sermons and other educational material.

It would be my hope that faith leaders, along with educators in our schools and universities, would avail themselves of these resources. Informed clergy, and school boards not coerced by politics, will make a much better mix in our efforts to properly educate our children.

James L. Evans is pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church in Auburn, Ala.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What You Can Do To Help Your Child's School

Edutopia magazine has some interesting things you can do to help your child's school. Read the article by clicking here.

The key points are:

  • Be a champion. - volunteer in the school
  • Host a conversation. Host meetings in a parent's home
  • Start a blog. (Or Facebook or Twitter your school.)
  • Use the news. Write your own news -- editorials, commentaries, letters to the editor -- and help your school gain visibility.
  • Be consistent. Meet with parents regularly and predictably
  • Prepare successors. Who will carry the torch when you move on? Don't leave it to chance.
  • Blog Archive

    Edutopia

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