District's site search continues

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By Laura Clark

In a special-called meeting December 10, the Spencer County Board of Education voted to re-advertise for a location for the future elementary school and discussed student achievement with principals and Site Based Decision Making representatives.

The re-advertisement would drop 5-miles from the city center criteria for the property. Board member Scott Travis said he took a recent ride around and outside of Taylorsville.

“I personally feel that sewer is very important. It could be a limiting factor,” he said. “Excavation – it can be very expensive work.”

Travis proposed looking again at possibly expanding Taylorsville Elementary School, which had recently been placed on the agenda for the school board’s January meeting.

Most of the evening was dedicated to open discussion of student achievement through school improvement plans. Principals and representatives also made recommendations for materials and personnel that could be implemented soon to help them reach their goals.

Principals reported intentional focus on teacher collaboration and higher accountability for teachers as well as students.

“I really feel like as a district, we’re more unified than we’ve ever been,” said Karen Larimore, principal of Spencer County Elementary School.

One aspect attendees were in favor of was more professional development days for teachers, as there is a shortage of time and logistical hardship in getting teachers and administrators together.

In monitoring the improvement within schools, principals advocated for continued classroom observation as well as asking students what they’re learning and why it’s important.

When it came to needs, technology made the unanimous wish list, but each school also had individual requests.

TES Principal Chuck Abell asked the board to address how to keep up with technology, as well as finding strategies to support children individually who are struggling.

“We also need good math materials, like the Accelerated Math Program,” Abell said.

Larimore warned that within a year her school’s computers would be out-of-date. SCES also needs textbooks, particularly for math.

Spencer County Middle School Principal Ed Downs said his school’s technology needs included electronic microscopes and projectors. The middle school set a goal of getting 20 microscopes, and has had a few purchased by the P.T.A.

Principal Jocelyn Lyons also requested money for high school textbooks.

“I think math is really struggling right now,” Lyons said. “How can they do homework without a textbook?”

The high school’s needs include computers, as well as a comprehensive reading program and an academic coach/graduation coordinator. Such a position could oversee juniors and seniors who would participate in internships in a trade or industry, or community-based volunteering in a nursing home or elementary school. This would help transition students as they prepare for graduation, Lyons said.

Superintendent Chuck Adams said the board will place several of the needs on the agenda for the Dec. 21 meeting, as some funds are available to help schools immediately.