Less than a week after the tragic school massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., school safety was one of the topics of conversation at the Dec. 20 Massac Unit One board meeting.
The board members, who met on the Thursday prior to the Christmas holiday, had questions about the district’s safety and crisis plans. Massac Unit One Superintendent Bill Hatfield said the district is required to perform a variety of drills each year.
Hatfield also noted the district’s plans cover a broad range of safety incidents, from natural disasters, to fires, to abduction prevention as well as school violence.
Hatfield pointed out for the last six months the district has been in the process of replacing exterior doors at the elementary schools and at the high school. “We are also replacing door locks and re-keying interior doors,” he said.
Massac County High School Principal Jason Hayes gave a PowerPoint presentation concerning high school achievement, in particular the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) of the students. He also talked about the high school’s mobility rate.
Hayes pointed out that due to changes in how the reporting is done on the state report cards, there are some students included in the high school’s data who have never stepped foot inside the school.
According to Hayes, the data includes students attending alternative schools or special education students attending another location.
In the data Hayes presented, he compiled five years worth of data showing the meets and exceeds numbers for those students who actually attended MCHS and those who did not. For example, in the 2011-12 school year in science, those students who attended MCHS tested at 52 percent whereas those students not attending scored at 42 percent. Hatfield noted attended means the students were enrolled by May 1 of the previous year.
Hayes pointed out those students who do not attend the high school being counted in MCHS’s totals could have an adverse affect on the school’s AYP status. Hayes told the board it is not uncommon for eighth-graders to test 10 percent above the state average and in the junior year for the scores to be 10 percent below the state average. According to Hayes, last year’s junior class had 41 move-outs and 36 move-ins for a difference of 77 students between eighth and 11th grades.
In another slide, Hayes had data showing that the single year mobility rate from 2010 to 2012 doubled, from 7.3 percent to 14.6 percent. In addition to that, he noted the three-year mobility rate from eighth grade to 11th grade for the Class of 2013 was 49 percent.
Hatfield points out much of the high school’s high mobility rate is due to the local economy. “It’s [the economy] taking a bigger toll than what people think,” he said, noting that with some of the county’s largest employers experiencing financial constraints, many parents are moving to find work elsewhere and students are leaving the high school.
Other reasons for the mobility could come from situations where parents get divorced. Hatfield pointed out there are a small number of students who live in Massac County but attend school in Kentucky. He said there are a handful of students who get derailed by life’s problems and end up out of school.
Hatfield observed one of the unfortunate things is the area is not attracting more people because there are not a lot of good jobs available.
On a related financial note, on the board’s agenda was the adoption of the tax levy that will be used for the next taxing cycle for 2012 taxes, payable in 2013.
Hatfield explained to the board the district would be levying for $5,424,608, which is a little more than the district will actually receive. According to Hatfield, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is 3 percent. He noted that because property values are going negative, that tends to raise the rate. If the property values were going up, then there would be the possibility of taxpayers paying less because the tax rate would go down.
According to Hatfield, there will have to be some leniency from the state in order to not levy the full CPI. He said there was only once since he has been superintendent that the district did not levy the full CPI. Since the district did not levy for the full CPI, the difference was taken off the district’s state aid payments it receives from the state. The worst thing Hatfield noted, was it took the district four years to get the money back. “We always get the money we levy for, or at least 99 percent. What happens is the state also deducts a percentage of the district’s state aid if the district does not levy for the full CPI in the local levy.
Hatfield also noted that already this year, the district is receiving less money from the state. Unit One gets two checks a month which are $50,000 less than last year’s amounts. Hatfield explains the district is receiving $25,000 less per week or $100,000 less per month. He also noted the state has also cut the district’s last two payment in June, which will be about
According to Hatfield, in looking at this year’s budget, the district has spent about $700,000 less than it did through this time last year, but also emphasizes the district’s balances are falling because Unit One is receiving less money.
After hearing all of the details pertaining to the levy, the board approved a motion accepting the levy as it was presented.
In other business, the board:
• Set MCHS graduation for Sunday, May 19 at 3 p.m.
• The board approved the Title One plan as presented by Metropolis Elementary School Principal Laura Walker. She pointed out there were some updates to the improvement plan, and she added new data to the plan.
• Accepted retirement notices from Sharon Fisher, MES cook; Carolyn Mumphord, MCHS cook; Larry Meyer, MCHS custodian; and Jane Williams, MES teacher’s assistant, all effective for 2015; and a resignation from Jason Gallo, Massac Junior High School custodian; and from Tyson Bormann as MCHS track coach.
• And, honored request from Mallory Gentry, MCHS softball team assistant, to be a volunteer assistant and not a paid assistant, which is in effect a resignation from the paid position.
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