Nashville School District issues report to public
By John R. Schirmer
Nashville school officials presented the district’s annual report to the public last week before the school board’s regular meeting for September.
Building principals reviewed the first three weeks of school and outlined plans for the new academic year. Other administrators gave their reports following the principals’ presentations.
Principal Shirley Wright said 638 students are enrolled at Nashville Primary, including 182 in kindergarten, 171 first graders, 130 second graders and 155 third graders. Enrollment figures show that 54 percent of the students are caucasian, 24 percent are Hispanic, 21 percent are African-American and 4 students are Asian, American Indian or Pacific Islanders.
Primary has 65 staff members, with 100 percent of the certified staff listed as highly qualified by the state.
Teachers use the new Home Access Center to post grades and provide class news for parents.
Parent-teacher conferences are planned for Oct. 23 and March 28. “We appreciate the support from our parents, community and local businesses,” Wright said.
Nashville Primary is School-wide Title I with all students eligible to receive extra help and reinforcement as needed.
Primary is implementing the Common Core State Standards in all grades. Kindergarten, first and second grades began using the standards last year, with third grade beginning the process this year as required by the state. “Our students are definitely receiving instruction and performing at higher thinking levels with rigor and more relevance than before,” according to Wright.
Last year’s test scores showed that 89 percent of third graders scored advanced or proficient in literacy, Wright said. On the math assessment, 90 percent were proficient or advanced.
At the beginning of the nine weeks, each grade level sends home a syllabus with weekly listings of language arts and math objectives and standards to be taught, tested and mastered.
Primary offers a number of programs to strengthen student achievement, Wright said. They include after-school tutoring, summer school, special education, TAG, migrant, foster grandparents and others.
Principal Paul Tollett said total enrollment at Nashville Elementary is 423 students, including 159 fourth graders, 137 fifth graders and 127 sixth graders.
New personnel include Michael Howard, who moved from junior high to replace retiree Charlotte Binkley, Marilyn Britt who replaced retiree Rosann Hartness, and Janet Jones Jamison who is teaching a fourth grade class added because of increased enrollment.
Students performed well on state Benchmark testing last spring, Tollett said.
Test results showed the percentage of students who scored proficient or advanced in math and literacy.
Scores by grade for math and literacy, respectively, include:
Fourth – 90, 93
Fifth – 87, 89
SIxth – 78, 78
“We’re very pleased with that,” Tollett said of the scores.
Elementary will continue offering proficient and advanced scoring incentives.
Elementary will implement Common Core starting this year, Tollett said.
Teachers attended a four-day workshop in the summer to discuss Common Core.
Teachers will meet by subject area and grade level to work with Common Core.
“Great Minds Under Construction” is the theme for the year at Nashville Junior High. “Halls and classrooms are decorated with all types of construction signs and materials to carry out the building theme,” Principal Deb Tackett said. Initial dirt work began earlier in the month on the east side of the building for the new cafeteria, kitchen and media center. “We are excited and looking forward to the changes and to the expansion and renovations that will be taking place during the year.
Enrollment at NJHS is 437 students, Tackett said, including 158 seventh graders, 153 eighth graders and 126 ninth graders. The student body is 63 percent Caucasian, 24 percent African-American, 12 percent Hispanic and 1 percent Native American and Asian.
New staff members and staff changes at junior high include Jerry Baker, seventh and eighth grade language arts; Hannah Winton, seventh and eighth grade science and math; Cristal Perez, ESL aide; Nathan Evans, band; and Tammy Alexander, transferred to ninth grade English.
NJHS received no citations in accreditation status for 2011-12, Tackett said. All teachers are highly qualified as defined by the Arkansas Department of Education.
Students and teachers “are to be commended for improving test scores,” Tackett said. Students “exceeded expectations” on the exams.
On the literacy test, 81.5 percent scored proficient or advanced. On the math exam, 75.9 percent were proficient or advanced.
NJHS is implementing Common Core State Standards curriculum, Tackett said. “Mathematics and language arts teachers worked this summer to develop lesson plans and units for implementation of CCSS curriculum. Teachers researched and obtained materials that will be helpful in meeting the objectives of the new curriculum,” according to Tackett.
Junior high will enter its fifth year with funding from a 21st Century grant for an after-school program. The program will begin Oct. 15. Students will stay from 3:20-5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Students will be involved in academic as well as enrichment activities.
Two teachers have received recognition, Tackett said. Kim Conant was named Arkansas’s Middle School Business Teacher of the Year. She is also the junior high District IV FBLA coordinator.
Tammy Elliott received the national FCCLA STAR Events Volunteer Award and the Adviser Mentor Award. Students received gold medals in STAR events at the national conference. Elliott is serving as national executive council adviser for Marquis Johnson of Nashville, the national FCCLA vice president of parliamentary law.
Principal Tate Gordon thanked the school board and Superintendent Doug Graham for the improvements at high school. They include a 7-room addition, new heating and cooling units throughout the existing building, and other changes in the existing building.
“Our faculty, staff and students like the new look of the building,” Gordon said.
Work is underway on the district’s new arena, which is scheduled to be completed in December 2013.
NHS is already implementing Common Core standards even though the state does not require them for high schools until 2014-15. “We’ll implement the Algebra II Common Core State Standards and performance task in math. We’ll implement the writing and listening skill strand” in literacy. Non-core subjects will provide proof and student documentation of at least one Common Core State Standards lesson per nine weeks.
NHS has devised a new system in grades 9-12 to help track students entering or withdrawing from the district to improve the school’s graduation rate.
Fall semester enrollment is 434 students, including 144 sophomores, 142 juniors and 148 seniors. The student body is 62 percent Caucasian, 20 percent African-American, 16 percent Hispanic and 2 percent Asian.
Staff additions include Kristina Ward, math; Matthew McLelland, agri; Sara Jo Morris, band; and Mike Ritchie, boys basketball coach.
On last year’s end-of-course geometry tests, 78 percent of NHS students who took the exams scored proficient or advanced. The school met the annual measurable growth requirement for 2012.
In literacy, 56.9 percent scored proficient or advanced. “We didn’t meet our AMO for 2012,” Gordon said.
One hundred students took the ACT in 2012, Gordon said. The average composite score was 19.9, close to the state average of 20.3.
Gifted and talented program coordinator Kristi Cox said she sees all classrooms in grades K-3 for 30 minutes on a two-week rotating schedule which enables her to see students for 60 minutes a month.
Cox is tying her lessons to the Common Core Standards.
At elementary, Cox has a pull-out program for fourth graders. Fifth and sixth graders have pre-AP classes in math and language arts.
For junior high and high school, Cox works with pre-AP and AP classes. She visits the schools once a month to see if students need to meet with her.
GT enrollment includes 650 students in K-3 and 152 in grades 4-12.
GT helps with expenses for school activities, including spelling bee and quiz bowl.
Cox said her goals include more enrichment programs at primary and more opportunities for student and community involvement.
Transportation and maintenance director James “Bunch” Nichols said the district’s buses cover more than 800 miles per day and carry more than 1,000 riders per day.
The district meets state standards, Nichols said.
He said Nashville has “one heck of a good bus mechanic” in Kelsey Willard.
A new bus arrived earlier in the month and awaits inspection before being placed into service.
Tina Conzel, food services director, reviewed USDA’s new dietary guidelines for schools. She also discussed meal patterns for different grade levels.
In order to produce a menu, Conzel said she must fill out three additional papers before doing production sheets for each school. She can no longer fill out one production sheet for all schools because of age range grouping.
Lunch reimbursement rates include free, $2.88; reduced, $2.48; and paid, 29 cents.
Breakfast reimbursement rates are free, $1.85; reduced, $1.55 and paid, 27 cents.
Meals in the Nashville district are “designed for students based on USDA guidelines and are consistent with the dietary guidelines for Americans,” Conzel said.
Assistant superintendent Joe Kell reviewed the district’s federal programs and announced dates for state testing.
The district receives about $1.7 million in federal and special funding, Kell said. Funds are used for staff development, salaries for literacy and math coaches, ACT tutoring at high school, ALE teachers at elementary and junior high, and a number of other staff and projects.
Curriculum projects include a web-based grade book, data driven software to study test scores, Common Core, and reading initiatives at all buildings.