CCSD board approves class waiver for AP
April 27, 2017
The Churchill County School District Board of Trustees met Wednesday to discuss the high school's AP (advanced placement) class sizes for next school year.
Superintendent Dr. Sandra Sheldon reported the minimum 15-student class size was not a policy but a board recommendation from 2011.
The current board approved the AP Calculus and AP Computer Science minimum class size requirement be waived for next school year; AP Spanish will be combined with honors Spanish.
Students, parents and teachers attended and spoke again to the benefits of having AP courses, including college preparation. Staff also reported additional students were interested in registering. The board discussed the pros and cons of teaching AP math classes online versus on-site for economic reasons (for example avoiding paying an instructor for a preparation hour).
Sheldon said the expense would be "definitely achievable" for the district.
Trustee Clay Hendrix voted for the motion but said he would have preferred more information before proceeding.
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Trustee Kathryn Whitaker said she would have preferred more facts over emotion as well as innovation such as offering alternating AP math and science courses yearly.
Transportation Director Steve Russell presented expanding bus service for 7th- and 8th-graders next school year, which was approved. The bussing schedules would be adjusted to allow these students — within walking distance to a school — to ride buses directly to the middle school instead of walking to the nearest school to board a transfer bus. There will be no additional cost since bus operations are already in place. Sheldon and Russell noted the policy already is to never deny a student needing transportation, but this will aid school attendance as well as more easily facilitate the trip home.
Special Services Director Derild Parsons reported nearly 500 students are enrolled in the Special Education program including speech and language services. He also said there are "severe" units and a resource center in each elementary school including the preschool, except E.C. Best presently. He added students' Individual Development Plans determine their classroom placement and assistance.
Parsons said the caseload in all schools has been good and with enough support, and added he thinks the program is in "really good shape" with services for next school year. The director estimated the special education population to be about 13-14 percent, and Sheldon said 13 percent is the state-funding cap, which is under review in the legislative session now.
"If they qualify they receive services, but we only get paid to that cap," she said, adding congratulations to Parsons for his first year in the position and providing outstanding service.
The board approved the five-year capital improvement plan presented by outgoing Director of Maintenance Brian Byrd. Byrd introduced the new director who has been with the district for a year and will move forward working on building and department enhancements and general maintenance. The board recognized Byrd for his five years of stellar service including staffing and organization. Byrd said the last couple weeks have been bittersweet with the mix of opportunity and leaving behind colleagues — he said he has made relationships that will last a lifetime though.
"If it's good for kids and it's good for the community, we were going to find a way to make it happen," he said of his time working with the board and commended the maintenance, grounds and custodial departments. "But to have your support and Dr. Sheldon's support has been a truly great experience."
Trustee Tricia Strasdin emphasized to him that she has thought, "we're killing it!" as she and other trustees have travelled to other district sites. Sheldon recalled Byrd being willing to be called out at 2 a.m. for freezing pipes as well as wading in water on the football field one time. Hendrix added smiling that Byrd has been "Johnny on the Spot," and said he was sad to see the director go but is always happy to see good employees spread their wings.
Public comments expressed disappointment that bullying was not on the agenda. A few community members shared their concerns for students, and touched on the district's related policy as well as school response.
Sheldon told the LVN the board would be looking further into claims made and reviewing the middle school discipline. She also had vice principal Robert Wickware review January-March incidents to share with her. She reported there were 20 incidents deemed a fight (from pushing or shoving to name-calling) that were dealt with and 34 students involved — out of 685 students, that's about 5 percent of the middle school population.
"That's a pretty low ratio," she said, adding they don't want to disregard concerns but are also trying to keep perspective.
Sheldon said the topic will be on the next board meeting's agenda.
High-school teacher Kelly Frost, who teaches American Government, spoke about legislature bill SB249 proposing to replace a semester of government with economics. She added she supports the financial literacy aspect but expressed concern over the potential harm of removing a government semester.
The next board meeting will be May 10 at 6 p.m. in the Old High School auditorium ("The Pit").