Board Hears State Test Results, Graduation Rates at Meeting

Daniel Prince

Low kindergarten readiness, drop in graduation rates concerning

At Monday’s school board meeting, Director of Instruction Dr. Lacresha Byrd presented an overview of the district’s 2020-2021 testing data and graduation rate data to the board. All the information is available on the state report card website, at screportcards.com.

Among the highlights of the report was that only 10.1% of the district’s kindergarten students last year were deemed kindergarten-ready based on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment that is completed on each child at the beginning of the school year.

The district’s graduation rate fell in the 2020-2021 school year to 70.8%. One of Superintendent Joey Haney’s goals for the year is to increase the graduation rate to 80%. The high school is putting in place interventions to help boost the rate, and they are setting a goal for 85% of all 9th-grade students earning at least 6 units by the end of the year, meaning they passed 6 of their 8 classes for the year.

Many of the school district’s declines in test scores corresponded with the decline in the state average over that same period. The pandemic forced many changes in instruction and scheduling, the effects of which were reflected in the 2020-2021 test scores. The district is putting in place a number of systems to identify learning problems in students early on and to help them through targeted interventions.

In other news, the school board held first reading on new board policies dealing with video monitoring for buildings and grounds and also for school buses. Technology Director Tim Barnado stated that the state School Board Association recommended the policies, they had been vetted by a law firm, and they had been tweaked slightly to fit with the Union County School District. More signage will need to be put in place.

The board voted unanimously to certify the meeting as the official one to discuss the Children’s Internet Protection Act. The school board has to review the act each year to determine if changes are needed.

Finance Director Bryan Gresham told the board that revenues and expenses are lining up very close to where things were at this time last year. Payroll expenses so far have totaled $2.9 million, while operating expenses come in at $1.7 million. Overall, the district is $888,029 to the good so far this year. Gresham said the accounts payable department is now fully certified through Tyler Technologies, and the payroll department will go through the process in the coming weeks. Gresham says he anticipates meeting the December 1st deadline to submit all the information needed for the school district’s annual audit.

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