Last updated: February 25. 2014 3:26PM - 916 Views
By Lauren Williams Staff Writer

Lauren Williams/Sampson IndependentWith school board chairman Telfair Simpson absent due to sickness, vice chairwoman Faye Gay presided over the Sampson County Board of Education meeting Monday night where members unanimously approved numerous consent agenda items.
Lauren Williams/Sampson IndependentWith school board chairman Telfair Simpson absent due to sickness, vice chairwoman Faye Gay presided over the Sampson County Board of Education meeting Monday night where members unanimously approved numerous consent agenda items.
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Numerous items on the consent agenda were unanimously approved by the Sampson County Board of Education Monday night during its regular meeting, held this month at Union High School.

Among the items given a thumbs up by the school board were the district’s and each school’s improvement plans which were presented for review and discussion at last week’s work session.

District-wide the school system plans to work on increasing its math growth and proficiency, shared Tommy Macon, assistant superintendent of Academics and Student Services, with hopes of raising student proficiency in math by some three percent in Grades 4 and 8 and in Math 1. Some of the ways the system plans to pursue this goal is by using more test prep materials and objective-based assessments in the classroom, and by offering Math 1 as a year-long course.

Improvements in reading were also among the district’s priority goals, especially increasing students’ reading proficiency on the End-of-Grade (EOG) test by two percent next school year. School officials believe incorporating more test prep materials into students’ school work, especially materials that focus on information text and include longer reading passages, will help improve proficiency scores.

Other district priority goals focused on teachers — increasing teacher effectiveness in curriculum, instruction and assessment, using customized professional development to address teachers’ individual needs, and offering professional development opportunities for Power School and SchoolNet, both digital instruction components of the larger, over-arching HomeBase platform now used by the state’s Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) and all state public school systems.

According to information presented by the system’s three curriculum coaches during last week’s work session, the schools’ improvement plans mirror the goals set by the district. All schools stressed plans to meet growth and show increased proficiency when students are tested next year. Midway High School also included in its plans an emphasis on raising ACT scores while both Hobbton Elementary School and Midway Middle School’s plans feature goals for specific sub-groups — increasing reading proficiency for the Hispanic population at Hobbton and increasing proficiency in both reading and math for students with disabilities at Midway.

Along with increasing proficiency, Lakewood High School, Union Elementary School, and Union Intermediate School also wish to increase parent involvement while Salemburg Elementary School hopes to reduce its number of bullying incidents.

In addition to the improvement plans, the school board also approved the system’s 2014-16 Technology Plan which, according to Dr. Wesley Johnson, director of Digital Literacy and Accountability, is necessary if the system chooses to apply for E-rate funding, federal dollars that help provide school systems with Internet connectivity and help fund various technology projects.

Included in the plan is a goal of transitioning to more online assessments, lowering purchasing costs by buying technology equipment and software in bulk and by working with other school systems — the county schools already work with Clinton City Schools to acquire software — , and designing staff training for the HomeBase platform and its components, a goal that the system’s recently received Digital Teaching and Learning grant and the new technology position it will fund will help with.

School board members also approved the 2013-14 revised calendar which now, following eight missed days of school due to inclement winter weather, calls for April 18, May 31 (Saturday), June 9, and June 10 to be make-up days.

Last week, superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy informed the school board that one of the two remaining missed school days would be forgiven due to the system having enough instructional hours banked to still meet the legislation’s requirement of 1,025 hours of instruction.

Monday night, Bracy updated school board members on the last remaining make up day, explaining that the governor forgiving additional days missed due to inclement weather was “unlikely to happen,” but that county school officials had “gone back to the table” and determined that the system could forgive the final make up day thanks to banked instructional hours.

The school board also approved the 2014-15 school calendar in which August 25 is the first day of school and June 9 the last. The calendar features 180 student days, 12 inclement weather days, 10 mandatory teacher workdays, and four optional teacher workdays.

Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at lwilliams@civitasmedia.com.

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