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Palmyra Schools will be in a good position when SB681 goes into effect next January with the new Palmyra Elementary School’s Literacy Program.
Cara Churchwell provided a report on the program during the R-I Board of Education meeting last week, at which the board also discussed electric buses, approved seeking to get Palmyra as a bus training site, approved seeing proposals for a new camera system and heard updates on testing and the food service program.
The PES Literacy Program would include children from kindergarten through fourth grade, who will be assessed an various reading skills, including phonemics awareness, rapid automatic naming, reading comprehension, letter naming fluency, letter sound fluency and phonics/word recognition.
These checks will occur at least three times a year, and students who fall below grade level will have interventions put in place to ensure success, said Churchwell.
It was noted with the implementation of this program, Palmyra will be ahead of the game when SB 681 goes into effect in January.
Under that bill, which has several items it addresses, including reading enhancement, each school district and charter school will have on file a policy for reading success plans, which will provide all parents and guardians with a plan that includes suggestions for regular parent-guided home reading.
In addition each school district and charter school will provide intensive reading instruction to students.
The bill also covers the need for testing new students to a district and methods of addressing reading deficiencies.
In other business, the board discussed the upcoming electric bus grant that will be available next spring.
Superintendent Jason Harper reported he had visited with Allie Bennett at Northeast Power about the possibility of receiving a grant, and learned the first round of grant applications was due in August and Palmyra R-I did not qualify financially to be placed in the pool of candidates.
However, he said, all schools will be able to apply for busses in the spring, and Palmyra R-I will take part in that process.
“Schools that apply will be placed in a nationwide lottery and can apply to receive $375,000 for a bus,” Harper said. “The winning schools will also be eligible to receive up to $20,000 for a charging station.”
In a related matter and with the bus driver shortage, the board gave approval for the district to apply to become a training site for school bus drivers.
“The training program will make it easier for local residents to acquire the training to be a bus driver,” said Harper, noting that having to travel and do the additional training, would really limit who would be willing to do all of the requirements to drive a bus. “If we can offer it here; they will be able to do their training right here in town, and we can provide an online curriculum they can do at home.”
Training would include curriculum, testing, driver skills assessment, and a driver training course for prospective bus drivers.
The board also gave the go ahead to develop a request for proposals regarding a new camera system for the district.
This would include replacing existing cameras, adding cameras in areas without good coverage, new switches, new storage and command centers in each of the offices.
Kayla McBride, Palmyra R-I testing coordinator, gave a report on MAP and EOC results for the district. The results varied between content areas and grade levels.
She noted, the district will have a better understanding of where the state test scores fell for students after the state results are released in December with the district APR.
The board also heard from Lee Gosney, OPAA Food Service director, about the lunch program.
Overall, students eating meals through OPAA were up 1.8 percent last year, and lunch participation was up 13.37 percent. However, breakfast participation fell nearly 20 percent during the same period.
While the OPAA staff has been short of workers, “they have worked extremely hard to provide quality service for our students,” Gosney said.
The board will host a retreat on Dec. 3, at which they will prioritize education, facilities and financial goals for the district. In addition, the board will review its CSIP plan to see if adjustments need to be made.
The board will also be conducting a survey for the students, staff and community as required by MSIP 6. Those results will be used to identify needs for the district moving forward.
The tuition rate for non-resident students was set at $11,257.67. This rate is calculated through DESE using the annual ASBR.
The board approved the following hires, Kaitlin Benson, high school paraprofessional; and Nicole Kroeger, varsity assistant girls’ basketball coach.
They also accepted the resignation of Amber Summers as the A+/special programs secretary.
The board approved the substitute teacher list additions and approved educational steps for several staff members.