LMSD to end GED to focus on ACT prep

By Madison Barnett
MPA intern Winston County Journal

The Louisville Municipal School District School Board of Trustees addressed a multitude of issues in the district and discussed state educational

funding.
Ella Smith gave a presentation on the district’s current GED program. Smith provided details of the past four years denoting that 56 students had enrolled in the GED program with 42 dropouts.
According to Smith, most of these students were 9th graders and said they dropped out because they could not pass a test or the work was too hard.
Smith stated that she believes the students were not prepared for the work they received in the program because the GED test is based a tenth grade level and the pre test for the program was based on 8th grade level.
Smith noted that most students could not pass the 8th grade pretest much less the tenth grade level test.
When Common Core came in to play, the new GED test has been moved to a 12th grade level test according to Ella Smith. Smith added that since the test is geared toward 12th grade abilities why not work to keep the students in the regular classroom and working toward a regular diploma and not place them in GED program.
“We need to focus on helping students be successful,” said Ella Smith. She encouraged focus programs on ACT prep and other testing and reading courses.
“We can help them two fold by preparing them for the ACT. With a 17 on ACT, they pass the state tests and are prepared for college,” said Ella Smith.
Superintendent McMullan noted that focusing on other programs would be more beneficial than funding a GED program in the district.
LMSD will end the GED program but noted that ECCC still offers a GED program in the district.
During the July 8, the new board officers were announced for the new fiscal year. District 5 member Betty Byrd will serve as chairwoman , Sheila Hickman of District 1 will serve as vice president, Cathy Edwards will serve as the secretary, and assistant secretary will be Bobby Moody.
Michael Smith of Musgrove and Smith law firm addressed the state’s MAEP funding. Smith stated many facts about a lawsuit against the state of Mississippi concerning MAEP and how education was not being funded correctly. Smith noted that education in Mississippi has been underfunded by $1.5 billion since 2010. He added that Louisville Municipal School District has been underfunded by $8.3 million since 2010. The law firm presently has 20 school boards signed on for the lawsuit. The board tabled to research further with a vote and discussion on a later date.
Mr. Justin Gentry, County Forester gave a short presentation for the FY15 Sixteenth Section annual report to be approved, the board approved the report. Gentry reviewed all the costs associated for caring for the trees on Sixteen Section properties as well as planned cuttings and the revenues estimated from those cuttings.
Steve Roberts with Renasant Insurance gave a summary of the LMSD Property and Casualty Insurance for the 2014 – 2015 school year to be approved. The cost will be $247,760. Roberts commented that it was 25 percent less than the last payment. Roberts recommended that the board examine property values and replacement values of the buildings with the tornado as a good example of why. The board approved the cost of the insurance.
William McCully, who has contracted with the school district for website blogs for the schools, discussed the school websites. He encouraged the schools’ staff to post more information about what goes on in the classrooms and extra curricular activities because that is what people are looking for and the more updated the pages, the more people pay attention to them. He also proposed that adding a Counselor’s page will be a convenient way for students to find ACT Prep, College Readiness, and other helpful tips. Board members thanked him for his input on the websites and blogs.
Penny Hill gave an update on Summer Professional Development and PD360. She stated that the Professional Development has been a huge success for the schools and it has extremely helped the teachers. They are able to watch videos of numerous ideas for a classroom, as well as, videos of other teachers teaching Common Core for ideas on effective teaching methods.
Next on the agenda were several financial reports, the Board approved.
The board approved Compliance Testing LLC as the provider for this areas drug testing. Students are randomly chosen to be tested. If the test comes back positive, Will Ball will then send the sample to a lab to be further tested. Depending on the seriousness of the drug will determine the suspension.
The SPED department received approval of the following items: Awareness Educational Services, Kristi Higginbotham to provide consulting services for the visually impaired students, Winston Therapy Services will provide physical and occupational services for students, Tawny McLeod, PhD will provide services as the School Psychologist and will provide psychological evaluations and assessment consultations, Aubrey Manning will provide speech therapy for Private school students and Lisa Waltman will provide consulting for alternate assessments and SATP Portfolios. The Board approved.
The request for student transfers were made, the Board approved two transfers and tabled one.
Sixteenth Section land leases and timber bids were approved.
The Board voted to go in to into Executive Session.
In other matters, the trustees approved:
• Minutes from the June 10 meeting. After discussing the motion on the telehealth pilot program. The board discussed whether the motion was for implementation of the pilot program or whether it was a motion to research the program more fully. According to board attorney John Mayo the motion appeared to move forward with the program with the superintendent to proceed. Hickman noted that she thought the issue was still under discussion and the board had only sought details on the program on where the monitors items could be set up in the school and who would be responsible for helping the students at the program. Edwards noted she thought the motion was to accept the pilot program with UMMC and Superintendent McMullan to examine the logistics of the program. The board approved the minutes as recorded with the motion recorded as approving the telehealth pilot program.
• Approved the consent agenda that included fixed assets, substitute, cafeteria workers list, donations to several programs (Wal Mart $750 to TSA Club, $200 from Mt. Bell M.B. Church to TSA, $2,200 from Baseball booster club to LHS baseball program, Heritage United Methodist Church $500 to Fair Elementary for tornado relief.
The next meeting was set to August 12, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.