Just five of Chesterfield County’s 16 public schools made “Adequate Yearly Progress” for 2011, according to the recently released State Report Card. “I believe that’s down from nine last year,” Chesterfield County School School District’s Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction J.R. Green told board members Monday evening.
The schools that did pass with flying colors include Cheraw Primary, Jefferson Elementary, Petersburg Elementary, Plainview Elementary and Ruby Elementary. Each of these schools met all necessary objectives.
Missing one objective in this assessment means you don’t pass. Edwards Elementary met 16 of 17 objectives and Pageland Elementary met 20 of 21 objectives. Neither of these schools made Adequate Year Progress, AYP.
In compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, each school is mandated to make specific improvements in academic performance and meet a 95 percent attendance rate. The mandates for AYP are individually tailored. “Each school has to develop a plan to achieve 100 percent proficiency by 2014,” said Green.
“We find it difficult to defend ourselves,” said Chesterfield County Superintendent Dr. John E. Williams. “I don’t believe the actual numbers have changed as much as the paperwork shows.”
“What happened with Central High?” asked Chesterfield County School Board member Wesley Miles. “There seems to be a significant drop in one school.”
There were some issues with attendance, graduation rates and tracking students this year, said Williams, referring to the No Child Left Behind mandate that requires schools to continue to track a student’s progress and attendance, even if they leave the district. Williams explained that minor changes in federal regulations could help improve the 2012 report card.
What will be different for the coming year, Williams said, is that a student will “have to be in school 45 days” before the district is required to track that student’s progress through graduation.
“We’ve been tracking kids that never actually breathed air in our schools,” said Williams. For example, in the past, if a student registered to attend school in Chesterfield County and then moved away before school actually started; the district was still required to include that student in the tracking reports.
In other action Monday, the board:
— Voted unanimously to increase the price of student lunches to $1.80. According to Missy Brown, School Food Services Director, the five cents increase has been set forth by federal mandates.
“I’ve got a feeling this is the first of a string of increases from the federal government we’re going to see,” said Williams. The increase will not apply to students receiving free lunches or reduced price lunches.
— Debated on what to do about the drainage problems at Long Middle School. Heavy rains have caused the parking lot at the front of the school to be covered in mud. According to Rick Hammond, Building and Ground Supervisor, some of these barren slopes have 30 degree angles.
“We have severe erosion problems,” said Hammond. “We’ve tried several things to correct it but it seems to be getting worse.”
Williams and Hammond discussed possible solutions. One idea, to use rip rap, proved to be too costly. Hammond figured the job would take nearly 750 tons of rip rap and would cost close to $40,000. No one wanted to go that route.
“We are looking at other options,” Hammond said. One of those options is to add top soil to the steep hills surrounding the parking lot and plant fast growing grass to help ease the erosion.
—Decided unanimously to abandon the Robert Smalls building on Front Street in Cheraw, which currently houses the adult education program. The board plans to move the adult education office to the Old Edwards School in Chesterfield. Negotiations are underway to provide a facility for Cheraw’s adult education students.