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Shelby County School Board: 3 new teachers to be required

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Middle schools project to have most growth

By Todd Martin

Shelby County Public Schools continued with its preparations for the 2012-13 school year with the district's school allocations presentation to the school board during its meeting Thursday.

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Revised growth projections show the district now growing by 98 students – down 22 students from the previous projections – and the district projects a need of 3.8 more teachers in the coming year to help handle the increased growth. The increase is nearly identical to the 3.7 teacher positions recommended last year.

The largest areas of growth will be at the middle schools, with West Middle projected to grow by 62 students and East by 33.

Painted Stone Elementary is next on the list with an increase of 21, and rounding out the increasing schools is Collins High School with 18 and Southside with 2.

The largest projected decreases are all in the elementary school range, with Heritage projected to lose 16 students, Wright 12, Simpsonville 7 and Clear Creek 2. Shelby County High School is expected to drop by 1 student.

District Director of Finance Greg Murphy said the district had been a little high in student projections during the past few years, so administrators tried to work against that this year. He also noted that the district had prepared for an increase in teachers in last month's first budget projections.

"The draft budget included the addition of three teachers," he said.

The additional 3.8 teaching positions follow the growth of the schools.

West and East middle schools would add 2.3 and 1.4 positions, respectively, and Painted Stone would receive funding for 1.1 more teachers. Collins and Shelby County high schools would get .7 and .4 teachers, respectively, and there would be no change at Simpsonville Elementary.

The four other elementary schools would see staff decreases – Heritage would lose .9, Southside .8, Wright .3 and Clear Creek .1.

Board member Doug Butler requested an explanation on how schools lose or gain a portion of a teacher.

"Schools can be very creative with their funding," Murphy said. "Elementary schools can use Title 1 funding or other grants to make up the rest of a full-time teacher, or they may hold a half position for the second semester, making it a full-time position for the second half of the year. There are a lot of different things they can do to work with those numbers."

The district finance committee also suggested the increase of a .5 assistant principal position for Southside, giving the school a fulltime assistant principal. As the smallest school in the district, Southside was the only building without a full assistant principal position.

"We believe having that additional administration help will aid with the transition to the new school," Murphy said. "If you can, picture it like adding a principal for Collins before the school was finished."

Murphy said that additional position was not included in the additional 3.8 allocated positions, but was included in the draft budget.

New report card coming

Superintendent James Neihof centered his report to the board on how the district would incorporate standard-based grading with grade-level performance.

To show the changes, he said parents could expect a new-look report card next year. Although it's not set what the report cards would look like and how they will change, but he wants to use the class room assessments used now, the MAP tests scores and KPREP (the new common core testing system being implemented by the state) with end-of-course assessments and additional national tests like EPAS, PLAN and ACT scores to track students progress, assess the development and depict whether or not a student is on grade-level.

"Simply selecting a single score that falls on the fiftieth percentile and calling it 'on grade level' [like MAP does] is not enough," he said. "I have come to the conclusion that, for our purposes, I can no more ascertain that a student who is one [score] above the fiftieth percentile is above grade level that I can say that the student who is one [score] below the fiftieth percentile is below grade level."

Special-called meeting

The board will have a special-called meeting on Thursday, Feb. 16. The agenda has two items, both of which are to be discussed in closed session. The board will conduct a student disciplinary hearing and will conduct a mid-year formative evaluation of Neihof.

Also at the meeting, the board:

  • Heard a presentation on KUNA and KYA from West Middle students and Talented and Gifted teacher Terry Walther.
  • Approved extending the athletic field maintenance contract for all natural surfaces with Farison Sports Turf through Feb. 2013.
  • Approved change orders for the Collins athletic complex.
  • Approved Family Resource and Youth Service Centers school district assurances for 2012-2013.