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Purdy R-2 responds to state cuts

Monday, August 23, 2010

State financial support and meeting state expectations for test scores raised concern for members of the Purdy R-2 Board of Education during their August meeting.

Superintendent Jerry Lingo reported the district had received $51,572 in state funding for transportation last year. The state plans to cut the amount by 30 percent or $15,000 for the coming year. Projections for average daily attendance appeared lower than for the opening of school a year ago. As a cost-cutting measure, board members accepted Lingo's recommendation to drop a bus route, placing average daily ridership at 46 students per bus.

Student test scores

Details on how the district will fare on the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) assessment under the federal No Child Left Behind program have not been fully disclosed. Middle School Principal Janet Boys, who was reappointed to track the district's adherence to federal programs, said composite scores had arrived.

The elementary and middle schools met AYP standards, based on improvement and the confidence level, Boys said. The elementary school is among the 20 percent of schools in the state not placed on the school improvement list. The high school met two out of three AYP standards, falling short on the graduation rate, hitting 81.5 percent when the state target was at least 85 percent.

Looking at the district as a whole, Boys said performance by all the subgroups was also tracked. As a district, performance on the tests fell short. The composite score for communication arts was 56.2 percent, compared to a state target of 67.4. The district's composite math score was 60 percent, when the goal was 63.3 percent. Boys said next year's target is over 70 percent in both categories.

Consequently the district would be classified at a level three for corrective action. Boys said letters informing patrons on the shortcoming would be mailed to patrons. Three-quarters of school districts in the state are classified for either level two or three corrective action.

Specific breakdowns on test scores by grade level are expected to be ready for the September board meeting. Principals assured board members curriculum was being carefully evaluated for performance shortcomings and corrective action taken to raise student performance.

Handbooks approved

Student, faculty, school bus and support staff handbooks were approved as revised. The student handbook included an insert on the dual credit courses, specifying the policy specifically deals with college courses students take independently.

The faculty handbook adjusted the rate the district pays for mileage to 40 cents, up from 35 cents. The support staff handbook specified employees must now pay for their own meals.

Board member Ed Mareth asked for the addition of a directive on employee behavior clearly stating swearing was unacceptable. The school board policy specified swearing in its conduct manual, while the faculty handbook was ambiguous. Board members agreed to add the board policy as a handout to employees and to add the language to next year's manuals.

Administrative action

The board adopted the property tax levy for the 2010 taxing cycle at a hearing prior to the monthly meeting. The levy remained unchanged at $2.75 per $100 of assessed property for general operations and 69 cents for debt service.

Total assessment in the district rose by $474,000. Personal property in the district dropped by $547,000. Commercial property values rose by $120,000. Residential and agricultural real estate rose in value by almost 6 percent.

Food Service director Shirley Burdette reported Judy Holle and Martha Berry had been hired to fill two vacancies. A total of 118,850 meals were served during the 2009-10 school year, of which 67 percent were free or reduced price meals.

Two former special education aides, Judy Craig and Katrina Williamson, were transferred into working with English language learners using federal funds to pay their salaries. Boys said the recently approved migrant program grant provided funding.

Purdy is using a new security system for visitors this year. Daily identification stickers with the visitor's photo need to be obtained at the school offices. Elementary Principal Jeff Swadley said his faculty especially likes the new system. The staff plan to watch for anyone in the school without a badge.

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