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Huntingdon School Board Hears From Principals, Visits Schools

Huntingdon School Board Hears From Principals, Visits Schools

HUNTINGDON (December 7) — Each year, the Huntingdon Special School District Board of Education spends a day hearing about the wants and needs of each of the three school sites and then visits each school to learn more about the school system.

Following a breakfast meeting, the board approved the 2018-19 school calendar: a common calendar among the five special school districts in the county. The first day of school is August 1 and May 20 is the final day.

The board also adopted a School Board Policy concerning testing. The policy allows the school certain variances on final grades if the results of the state achievement tests do not arrive in a timely manner. The last two years, the State Department of Education has been tardy in providing the results of the achievement tests.

Following the regular meeting, the Board heard reports from Jonathan Kee, principal of Huntingdon High School, Scott Carter, principal of Huntingdon Middle School, and Alan Eubanks, principal of Huntingdon Primary School.

Dr. Lee Carter, chairman of the board, noted that each school’s requests for items have decreased over the years.

Dr. Jonathan Kee said the students at HHS achieved the highest average ACT scores, 20,6 in school history. That eventually will net more scholarships for students as they leave HHS. Eighty percent of HHS graduates also enter post-second education. That’s higher than the state average of 62 percent. HHS has a graduation rate of 94.2 percent.

Kee said the school has added Calculus, put more emphasis on pre-testing and training for the ACT tests, and working with the new Chromebook computers, which allow students to access training in subject areas in which they have difficulty. Kee said the school works with Tennessee College of Applied Technology in McKenzie for some job skills training, but would like to also work with its Paris campus to add plumbing and cosmetology.

Areas to discuss were the addition of early graduation for seniors at Christmas, just as some area schools have recently added. Kee said the student would have to have all the necessary credit hours and commitments to enter the military, college, or other post-secondary arena.

Kee said the school needs to address its concession stand and press boxes at the both the softball and baseball fields. The HHS Band also needs a covered pavilion at its practice field.

He said he would like the school board to consider a method for students to be exempt from final exams through excellent daily attendance and no disciplinary actions against that student. If a student earns the exemption, he or she can choose to take the final test to possibly improve his or her grade.

Scott Carter said the middle school students and faculty are adjusting to the new state testing standards, which he said “reset” two years ago. Carter said the teachers are adjusting their teaching methods to better match the test. There are new science standards, said Carter. Some of the chemistry taught in middle school was previously considered high school level. The schools are also addressing dyslexia compliance to assist students who might need additional assistance.

Carter said HMS needs to add an instructional coaching position. It also needs help to transport its softball and sports teams, and needs to pave its parking lot. The middle school building is now 20 years old and the campus needs some consideration, including the gymnasium that needs a fresh coat of paint.

Eubanks said HPS made a strategic shift this school year with 10 staff members in new positions. HSSD has provided six teachers per grade level, which helps tremendously.

The recent state assessment of the HPS students just arrived and the faculty and administrators will need to evaluate the data to determine what adjustments need to be made. With the new state benchmarks, all schools dropped in overall performance. It will take three to five years to adjust to the new testing standards, said Eubanks, who added he would like to see a similar grading scale at the school as the state test: mastery, evolving, and below standard. HPS is also dealing with evaluating students with dyslexia, said Eubanks.

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