Senioritis? Steady attendance decline through high school
By Kathryn Schiliro
Morgan County High School Principal Dr. Jim Malanowski has noticed a decreasing trend in students’ attendance as they progress from ninth to 12th grade.
Part of a three-pronged initiative being examined closely by school administration this school year – Attendance, Behavior and Curriculum (the ABCs) – Malanowski presented his findings to the county school board at their meeting Monday, Dec. 10.
Freshman attendance is at more than 96 percent; sophomore, more than 95; junior, more than 94; and senior, more than 92, making average attendance at the school almost 95 percent.
“They all drop off as students progress through high school,” Malanowski said, noting his concern of a correlation between attendance and test scores, the data from which is being examined.
In related news, the school system’s seen a net enrollment loss of 22 students since November, according to Assistant Superintendent Sarah Burbach. There are 3,283 students in the system.
There has been a decrease in the number of students at all of the schools, with nine expelled between the middle and high schools, she said.
In other news:
• Assistant Superintendent Debra White shared with the board the high school’s desire to add a new course, “Scientific Research III,” to its offerings next school year.
The course will involve students coming up with and completing research projects extending in the community, according to White.
“The goal is to develop a solution through the project,” she said, “to fill that knowledge gap.”
The class would require no new teacher, she added. Because it’s not on the state’s list of approved courses, it must be OK’d by the school board and then the state board.
• The high school’s Robotics Team shared their successes with the school board. Last year, their second year in existence at the school, the team came in second place at their annual competition, which included 60 teams from seven states.
The team uses physical science and physics, as well as principles of manufacturing and computing to build their robot. In addition, public speaking and grant writing is required in acquiring funding, and the team must maintain a website as part of competition.
“Our program was founded to advance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), adding rigor and real-world experience,” Mitcham Tuell, founding member of the team, told the board.
The team requires $12,000 to $13,000 a year to function, all money they must obtain themselves. The team received a two-year grant for $5,000 from NASA; that grant expires this year. According to team advisor Maryann Dartnell, JCPenney and 4-H have each promised the team $1,000. Additionally, the team recently held a three-hour Science Night fundraiser for elementary school students; the team charged for admission and brought in $360.
Tuell asked the board for consideration when making budgetary decisions.
• Director of Operations Bob Monk told the board that bridge work on Old Buckhead Road was complete and that the road is now open, so there’s no more need for a detour bus route.
• Superintendent Dr. Ralph Bennett shared a draft version of the board’s meeting schedule for 2013. Meetings are typically the second Monday of each month and all begin at 6 p.m. Dates are Jan. 14, Feb. 11, March 18, April 8, May 13, June 10, July 8, Aug. 12, Sept. 9, Oct. 14, Nov. 11 and Dec. 9.
The board will vote on the schedule in January.
• The school board voted unanimously to open proposed revisions to Board Policy BCBI, “Public Participation in Board Meetings,” for public comment.
The revisions eliminate outlined topics permitted to be discussed in closed session, referencing Board Policy BCBK, which requires board members in attendance to “execute and file” a notarized affidavit “stating under oath that the subject matter of the meeting or the closed portion thereof was devoted to matters within the exceptions provided by law and identifying the specific relevant exception.”
Those topics allowed to be discussed in closed session center around real estate acquisition, legal matters, personnel issues and discussion of individual, student-specific issues involving identifiable information.
The board will vote on Policy BCBI at their January meeting.
• The board approved the month’s personnel list, which included the transfer of a Special Education teacher from Morgan County Middle to Morgan County Primary School as well as the recommendation for a substitute bus driver.
Printed in the January 3, 2013 edition