Administrator report: Construction has made for an interesting year

February 5, 2009

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STARKVILLE - Starkville school officials heard the first of three administrator reports for the year, and unlike previous years when money requests were common, very little money was requested in this tight budget year. 

 


Each year, administrators give annual reports to the board in February before school district administrators develop the budget. Tuesday night, Tim Bourne, Jamie Stidham and Joseph Stone gave their reports of Henderson Intermediate, Millsaps Career and Technology Center and Quad County Alternative schools. 

 


Bourne, principal at Henderson, went first and faced the most questions. He said construction on the Hill, as the Henderson Ward Stewart campus is known, has made the year interesting. 

 


Among his accomplishments were success in the after-school program that runs from 3:30-5 p.m. each day. Bourne said 63 students were served, and 30 of them saw their grades go up one or two letters. He spent a lot of time talking about how his teachers use the various testing and progress checks to provide differentiated, or personalized, instruction to each student. 

 


Teacher teams are looking at the standardized test scores and paying special attention to those students who are just a few points away from the next classification, such as proficient or advanced. 

 


"We''re strategizing to try to increase (test) scores," Bourne said, noting he wants his school to improve on engaging students with hands-on learning. Behavioral interventions are another area of interest, although he said behavior problems are down this year. 

 


The board had several questions about individualized instruction, the transition being planned for when sixth grade moves to Armstrong Middle School, declining student performance at this grade and more. 

 


Stidham spoke briefly about the year at Millsaps, and received high board praise for the school when he finished. 

 


"At the top of my list is redesign," Stidham said. "The state superintendent gave us the opportunity to do redesign Starkville-style. They told us to think outside the box ... then they tried to put us back in the box a bit, but we''re still out of the box." 

 


Stidham said students at the vocational school can explore four of 10 career tracks and have numerous academic opportunities. Millsaps serves students from the city schools, Oktibbeha County public schools and Starkville Academy. 

 


He said a strength the school has every year is its staff - 45 percent of which is nationally board certified -- and this year they had no personnel turnover. 

 


"We''re well equipped in the center," Stidham said, to which board member Bill Weeks added, "well maintained, too." 

 


Stidham said he would like to establish more projects in line with the workforce skills need in the area, and listed a $15,000 need for more restrooms. 

 


Stone wrapped up the evening''s reports with a well-received summary of the year at Quad County Alternative School, which serves as many as 80 students from the Starkville, Oktibbeha County, Lowndes County and Winston County school districts. 

 


The board was pleased to hear about the school''s GED program, with 12 students and 2 graduates, and Operation Catch-Up, which helped 10 of the 11 enrolled students move into ninth grade. 

 


Stone said he would like to see his staff receive professional development in how to work with at-risk youth and differentiate instruction, although he said they already use this technique. He is seeking additional funding for next year to expand the GED program and Operation Catch-Up, which is designed for students who are two grades behind in school. 

 


"These additional teachers will be funded through the sale (to participating school districts) of additional slots in these programs," Stone said. 

 


The board will hear from Bob Fuller, Beverly Smith, Shawn Sullivan, Sandi George and Beth Sewell when they meet again at 6 p.m. Feb. 10.