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Henry County schools OK $446K appropriation from state
Friday, September 7, 2012
The Henry County School Board has received $446,280 in additional funds from the state.
At its meeting Thursday, the board approved the appropriation of the $446,280 and agreed to forward an appropriation request to the Henry County Board of Supervisors.
Board Chairman Kathy Rogers said after the meeting that the school division had anticipated receiving the money when Gov. Bob McDonnell’s budget was finalized.
The main changes in the governor’s budget were to add additional assistance with retirement, inflation and preschool costs, EpiPen grants and reduction in basic aid funding, school board documents show.
The county schools will use the additional funding to offset the increase in payroll taxes due to the required increase in wages to cover the mandatory Virginia Retirement System employee contributions and to provide a cushion for utility and fuel budgets to accommodate rising prices and uncertain winter weather, according to Rogers and board documents.
Also Thursday, school board members learned about a program known as Response to Intervention, or RTI.
The program helps educators detect a student’s weaknesses early and begin remedial work, said Rebecca Wells, the county schools’ director of special education, during a school board meeting held in the Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School auditorium.
The RTI model was introduced in 2005 and piloted in the county school system in 2006. Two years later, it was available in kindergarten and first grade at Irisburg Elementary, Ridgeway Elementary (now Drewry Mason Elementary), Collinsville Primary and Sanville Elementary.
At the schools, second grade was added in the 2008-2009 school year and third grade in 2009-2010, Wells said.
Mt. Olivet Elementary, Stanleytown Elementary and Rich Acres Elementary began the program in the 2011-2012 school year. This year, Campbell Court Elementary and Carver Elementary started using the RTI model, Wells said.
RTI is a new approach for determining which students should be classified as learning disabled. In 2010-2011, there were 91 initial referrals to special education; that number decreased to 69 in 2011-2012, according to Wells.
“We are seeing an impact,” she said.
The program allows students to set goals, and data is collected throughout the school year to track each student’s progress, said Deana Johnson, psychologist with the county schools.
RTI’s instruction has varying levels of intensity, depending on a student’s specific learning needs, Johnson said.
The program is operated through Aimsweb, which is a universal screening process, progress monitoring and data management system, according to Dave Parker, also a psychologist with the county schools.
Denna Ramsey, a second-grade teacher at Sanville Elementary, told the school board that one of her students went from reading 23 words per minute to 97 by the end of the school year as a result of the program, and another student went from reading 24 words per minute to 49 by year’s end.
Ruth Clay, first-grade teacher at Drewry Mason Elementary, said her students get excited to use Aimsweb each day. She constantly praises and rewards her students when they improve their fluency or reading level, which helps them to gain self-confidence and builds their self-esteem as well, she said.
With the program, the students and Clay are motivated to improve, and the program provides an easy way to record student progress, she said, adding that the program provides her with all the reading materials she needs to help students improve.
As a result, by the end of last year, all of Clay’s students were reading on grade level, she said.
In other business Thursday, the school board:
• Heard from William Wampler, New College Institute executive director, and Dr. Leanna Blevins, associate director at NCI, about the new Academy of Engineering and Technology which is being offered to county high school students through a partnership with Virginia State University and NCI.
Students gain college credit through engineering and mechanical courses taught by VSU professors at NCI, according to Wampler.
There are 33 students enrolled in the academy this semester, including eight county students, Blevins said.
“We are setting the standard” by providing such courses to high school students, Wampler told the board.
• Dorothy Carter, president of the Henry County Education Association, discussed her hopes for the school year and noted that the association will be starting a scholarship fund for county school students.
• Approved a consent agenda that included minutes from the Aug. 2 meeting and bills for payment.
• Approved a consent agenda that included spending $23,745 to renew the Video on Demand Delivery System, which gives teachers the ability to find a video clip to correlate with Virginia Standards of Learning and the division’s curriculum. The system helps avoid problems associated with copyright infringements and purchasing additional televisions and DVD players.
The school board approved the purchase of video on demand from Safari Montage in 2008 and there is a yearly renewal and upgrade fee for each school.
• Approved a consent agenda item that included all planned overnight field trips.
• Approved and appropriated an amendment to the 2012-13 Special Education Annual Plan/Part B Flow-Through Application and Section 619 Preschool Grant Application.
The amount awarded for the 2012-13 Special Education Title VI-B Annual Plan was decreased $26,627, from $2,034,724 to $2,008,100.
The application for Section 619 preschool funds is also incorporated into the annual plan. The amount awarded to the county schools for the 2012-13 school year is $82,647, a $120 decrease from funding for the 2011-12 school year. Adjustments for the decrease will be made in purchased services.
The Title VI-B Flow Through and Section 619 Preschool Budgets have been reviewed and were approved by the Henry County Schools Special Education Advisory Committee on May 3.
• Reviewed reports from Superintendent Jared Cotton. The reports included a slide show of all 551 kindergartners that he met during the first week of school. Also in the reports were an energy conservation report, approved fund raisers, receipts and expenditures through July 31 and a summary of major projects.
The roofing project at Mt. Olivet Elementary is substantially complete while roofing projects at Rich Acres Elementary and Stanleytown Elementary are about 50 percent complete. The Magna Vista High School ceiling and lighting renovations are about 60 percent complete. Paving of upper parking lots is complete and crews are waiting until the end of football season to complete lower parking lots at both Magna Vista and Bassett high schools.
• Met in closed session to discuss appointments and separations of personnel, student matters and legal matters.
• Approved a motion that Joe DeVault, board vice chairman, be designated as the voting delegate to represent the school board at the Virginia School Boards Association Delegate Assembly and Regional Meeting of the 2012 VSBA/VASS Annual Convention. Kathy Rogers, board chairman, was designated in the July meeting, but she cannot take the position because she already serves on the VSBA board.
The next regular school board meeting will be at 9 a.m. Oct. 4 in the board meeting room on the first floor of the Henry County Administration Building.