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Purdy school board reviews annual district summary to state

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Purdy School Board members reviewed the Annual Performance Report issued by the state and heard a report on the special education program during the November meeting.

The Annual Performance Report, issued by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, provides an assessment of the district based in part on standardized test scores and other factors such as graduation rates and attendance.

The district passed 12 of 14 criteria. Scores fell short in high school communication arts and subgroup achievement.

Elementary Principal Jeff Swadley reported the third and fourth grade teachers had gone over the tests, looking for holes in their curriculum. He felt the teachers had a good plan of action.

Middle School Principal Janet Boys said her teachers were looking at grade level expectations calculated by the state as content standards then studied how the building performed as a whole compared to individual grade levels. Teachers were consulting other grade levels for performance expectations and tailoring instruction to get students ready for meeting the mark the following year.

On the high school level, Principal Bob Vice said teachers were analyzing scores from the end-of-course exams to find strengths and weaknesses in the curriculum. He expected revisions to be incorporated in the district's Comprehensive School Improvement Program.

Superintendent Jerry Lingo was pleased to see the district pass the review in all but one academic area. The biggest shortcoming was in overall performance by students from identifiable groups such as ethnic or economically stressed.

A+ policy

Board members received a revised citizenship policy from the A+ Advisory Committee. Vice said the group had concerns about a zero tolerance policy that allowed students no way to redeem themselves.

Proposed changes offered more details on disciplinary procedures. For in-school suspensions, a student would receive a written warning. For an out-of-school suspension, a student would got 90 days probation and a written notice. Any additional out-of-school suspension would result in immediate removal from the A+ program.

"This spells out the procedure," Vice said. "It's not zero tolerance."

The board voted to accept the revision, making the new policy retroactive to the beginning of the school year.

Special education report

Dixie Farris, special education director, reviewed the activities in her department with board members. Three elementary students, eight middle school students and seven high school students are receiving special education services this year. Three students are each campus were dealing with mental retardation issues.

The district had three students dealing with autism this year. Four pupils had health impairment issues compared to two last year. One visually impaired student gets assistance from a paraprofessional assigned to him. A visually impaired high school student has a laptop that helps enlarge lessons. Big print textbooks were just now arriving for this student, Farris said.

A total of 76 students in the program represented an increase of 13 over last year, Farris said. Four full-time teachers and three para-professionals who go into classrooms as needed make up the staff.

Farris said referrals for the early childhood numbers tend to come in during the spring. The district was contracting for occupational therapy for some students but had no physical therapy needs at the present time.

Administrative reports

Principals reviewed attendance at the fall parent-teacher conferences. Swadley had 93 percent at the elementary school, a little less than usual. Additional figures had been turned in at the middle school, putting the overall average around 65 percent. Boys said she is working on several strategies to improve attendance.

At the high school, Vice reported around 20 percent of parents attended conferences, a drop of 9 percent from last year.

Administrative action

The board added five names to the substitute teacher list.

Filing dates for the annual school board election next April were approved. Filings will open at 8 a.m. on Dec. 15 and close at 5 p.m. on Jan. 19, 2010.

Lingo told the board the emergency calling chain list was being upgraded to a new system through School Messenger in Joplin. The upgrade should be ready by the time snow falls, the superintendent said.

The district will be able to inform parents about the weather, cancelled sports practices, lockdowns and school bus breakdowns. Lingo said the system has unlimited potential to inform staff of emergencies, including use of e-mail and texting. The old method of informing the public through the broadcast media will continue as well.

The next board meeting will be held a week earlier than usual on Dec. 14.



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