Starkville administrators report to board

February 14, 2009



STARKVILLE -- Words like "alignment," "rigor and relevance" and "intervention" were discussed at Tuesday night''s board meeting of the Starkville School District. 


The board, minus Bill Weeks, heard annual reports from five administrators. The board is meeting once a week in February to hear these reports as they prepare to make budget decisions for the coming school year. 


Bob Fuller, Beverly Smith, Shawn Sullivan, Sandi George and Beth Sewell each spent 30 or more minutes with the board discussing their program or school and answering questions. 


When the meeting concluded, the board unanimously approved reappointing all existing administrators to their positions with the exception of Fuller, who is resigning effective June 30. 


"We wish him well in his future endeavors," said Eddie Myles, board president. "His love for the kids is great ... and we appreciate the service he has done for the district." 


Before adjourning, the board went into closed session to discuss an unnamed personnel matter. 




Progress reports 


In his report, Fuller praised the "two great programs in literacy" Armstrong Middle School has utilized this year -- "My Reading Web," used by all students, and "Read 180," in use by 72. Both are computer-based reading tutorials. Fuller asked for funding to hire another "Reading 180" teacher for the middle school and thanked the board for hiring a second counselor last year. 


"The additional counselor at our school has made a really big impact," he said. "More kids are being served." 


Among Fuller''s goals are to move 25 students from each performance category to the next higher level on the MCT next year and to renovate the Greensboro Center gymnasium or build a new Armstrong gym or an outdoor pavilion for physical education classes. 


Smith, director of The Larry Box Conservation Center, sounded discouraged as she gave her report. 


"I''m not getting my clientele I used to get," Smith said, adding later that "this has been my worst year ever. I don''t have a solution." 


Smith said just 63 of the 109 possible dates were booked for the year, and of the Starkville schools, only classes from Sudduth, Ward-Stewart and Overstreet attended the center at the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge. 


"I just can''t get the high school, the junior high or Henderson out there," she said. 


Smith offers a variety of environmental education programs to classes in Starkville and surrounding school districts. Her material is geared to meet the rigor and relevance of state curriculum frameworks and guidelines, and Smith said she is willing to work with any teacher to improve the material and make it fit better with a class'' needs. 


Sullivan, director of bands, gave board members a count of participation in each of the schools'' bands and ensembles and praised the quality of the instruments the band has. 


"(Students) are playing on good equipment and they appreciate it," Sullivan said. 


He is working to increase retention of band members from eighth grade to high school, although he said he would always rather have quality over quantity. 


"Our numbers are beginning to creep back to where we want them to be, a respectable 5A band program," Sullivan said. 


He asked for $12,000 for new instruments and $10,000 for "proper music chairs." 


George, director of Student Support Services, spoke about the reduction the district has seen in the disproportionality between black and white students in the special education program. Districts statewide are required to address this disproportion, and George said Starkville''s numbers dropped from 3.93 percent in December 2007 to 2.51 percent in December 2008 as some students graduated, others responded to intervention and were moved out of the program, and some were re-evaluated and classified as having behavioral or emotional problems rather than learning disabilities. 


All districts are required to have a rating of 1.85 percent by the 2009-2010 school year. 


"We feel like we''ll be there," George said. 


Sewell, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, concluded the night''s reports. Accomplishments for the year included interventionists at all the schools to help modify students'' behavior and "get them on a different track," she said. 


One of her goals is to offer a system for parents to access student information online. 


"I think there are a lot of things we could do with the Web better than we''re doing now," board member Keith Coble said. 


The board will meet again at 1 p.m. Feb. 17 to hear reports from Libby Mosley, Diane Baker, Beverly Lowry, Tommy Carlisle and Walter Gonsoulin.