By Lois Mittino Gray
School Superintendent Tom Kopatich opened the October 7 Mount Vernon School Board meeting with a grand announcement. “We are doing outstanding,” he beamed citing the recent grading report from the Indiana Department of Education and ISTEP scores. “So many things are positive and we are moving in the right direction.”
He announced that all three elementary schools in the district received an A grade this year and the junior high and high school have B grades ‘making us a B+ district.’
Last year, only Farmersville and Marrs Elementary school had A rankings. West Elementary and the two secondary schools all received C grades a year ago and “we were rated a C district,” he said. Even though the grading system is under public investigation with the recent grading scandal, it still reflects the overall progress made with test scores.
Curriculum Director Jody Pfister began her presentation telling the board, “I have good news. We made tremendous gains this year.” Spring ISTEP scores showed those passing both the English/ Language Arts and Math parts of the exam in grades 3-8 was 78.3 percent, well above the Indiana state average of 73.5 percent. The Language Arts portion taken by itself shows that Mount Vernon’s 84.8 percent passing rate is way ahead of the state average of 79.5 percent. Those passing the Math Test section taken by itself are also above the state average of 82.7 percent, with a corporation score of 85.3 percent.
Pfister felt the overall improvement might be due in part to the work of Mrs. Dieg, a reading consultant who used 8 strategies with the teachers to improve skills. She also noted that use of IPADS to write essay answers seemed to improve writing scores in grade six as students tended to write longer answers using their IPADS.
At the high school level, 73 percent of high school sophomores to seniors taking the English 10 End of Course Assessment Test passed it, a figure exactly equal to the state average. The student pass rate for the Algebra I ECA test was 74 percent at MVHS, besting the state average of 67 percent. A student must pass these two tests to graduate.
The district fared lower than average in the Biology 1 ECA test scoring a 44 percent pass rate, compared to the state average of 46 percent. A discussion ensued on the overall statewide low score for the test and why it may be a problem all over. It is not a required test to graduate at this time.
In other board action:
• the board adopted policy number 328 allowing a home schooled student who lives in the district to participate in team athletics, following IHSAA guidelines. The student must have been home schooled for three consecutive years, attend at least one day class for credit in the district, and take all required state examinations, such as ISTEP. Kopatich said there have been questions about students in parochial schools and that will be addressed at a future time
• Kopatich called to order a public hearing on the 2014 budget. There were no remonstrators or citizen comments so the board plans to adopt the budget as prepared on October 21
• In personnel matters, the Board accepted the resignation of David Koch, building maintenance technician at the high school, effective October 21. They confirmed the employment of Joseph Wagner as High School Drama Coach and Trudy Konrath in high school food service. Dan Guthrie will be HS Asst. Boys’ Basketball Coach and Sandra Mumford was hired at half stipend as HS Assistant Boys. Swim Coach.
• The retirement incentive Memorandum of Understanding passed earlier by the board with the NEA Mt. Vernon Union was revised with a date change to qualify for retirement benefits. It was originally June 30 and will be changed to August 8, 2014.
• There will be an active shooter drill on Thursday, October 10 at West Elementary after school and Secretary of State Connie Lawson will address the MVHS student body on financial literacy on Friday October 25 at 10:45 a.m. (tentative).
• Asst. Superintendent Loren Evans discussed Internet Protocol Television quotes and state requirements that each governing body establish goals in each category of expenditures. He submitted a proposed resolution detailing student instruction expenditures for review and future discussion.
• granted permission for student activities on the following Sundays: Mount Vernon Swim Club to use the pool and concession area at the junior high school on December 8 for the Candy Cane Swim Meet and on February 23, 2014.
• The board granted permission for travel to attend thirteen different educational meetings to twenty three staff members. School Board President Kathy Weinzapfel noted that ‘lots of teachers are going to lots of meetings and we are fortunate that we can still support this as many districts don’t allow travel in the budget. We feel it keeps our staff fresh and their enthusiasm up.’ Kopatich stressed that it is a teacher’s choice whether to attend conferences or be in their classroom and ‘our teachers do an excellent job weighing the amount of time they are out.’
• congratulated the MVHS Marching Band for winning the Castle Band Invitational Class C and for taking first place honors in Class AA at the Evansville North Invitational all in the same day.
• The next board meeting is Monday, October 21, 2013 at 5:45 p.m. at the Mount Vernon Junior High School. It will be a budget adoption meeting and the public is encouraged to attend.
By Lois Mittino Gray
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