Administrators of the Highland School District gave their annual report to the public Sept. 9, with information concerning the start of the new school year and programs that are offered in grades K-12. Highland School District is working to close "gaps in academic achievement" through a task force group which is charged with developing a collaborative plan for achieving that goal.
Superintendent Ronnie Brogdon noted a good beginning for the new school year with a current enrollment of 1,593 students; a welcomed increase of 22 from this time last year. All three Highland schools are fully accredited with the Arkansas Department of Education as well as the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges. Each school, as well as the district has an Arkansas Consolidated School Improvement Plan (ACSIP) along with budget. None of the schools in the district has any current ADE alerts or cites for school improvement. Adequate Yearly Progress has been met on all mandated tests.
Computer-assisted instruction is employed by all instructional personnel to improve opportunities for all students. The Highland School District is committed to the federal guidelines of "No Child Left Behind." All members of the Board of Education will have completed their required professional development hours by Dec. 31.
With asbestos in floor tile in parts of the high school and elementary school, the district has an Asbestos Management Plan with periodic inspections to insure safety of personnel.
The superintendent has weekly meetings with the construction manager concerning progress of the new activity center/gymnasium. Completion is expected by winter 2009.
Cherokee Elementary School Principal Tracy Webb reported a current enrollment of 621 students: Kindergarten -- 132, first grade -- 110, second grade -- 118, third grade -- 131, fourth grade -- 130. According to ADE regulations, all students who did not score proficient or better on state assessments will continue to receive remediation during the school day. After-school tutoring is available for math on Monday and reading on Wednesday from 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Benchmark assessment data from the spring of 2008 showed 90 percent proficient in math and 78 percent proficient in literacy in third grade; fourth grade students were 85 percent in math and 76 percent proficient in literacy. The 2009 assessments are scheduled for April with an augumented Benchmark exam for gades 3-4 and the SAT 10 exam for K-2.
Target testing continues in grades three and four in math and literacy. This teaching/assessment tool is used to enhance instruction for mastery of curriculum objectives. Technology additions include projectors in all K-4 classrooms along with document cameras in various classrooms. Smartboards will be provided to all teachers requesting the same. The Child Internet Protection Act is in place with two filters (state and local) monitoring Internet activity. Parent Internet Viewer is now available to parents of elementary students.
CES meets the requirements of Act 1220 of 2003 (nutrition and physical activity) through its Wellness Policy. Target testing is a tool used by teachers with students. Total Instructional Alignment is being pursued on all three campuses.
This is the third and final year of the Reading First grant ($105,900) for classroom materials, training and salary for a literacy coach.
Dennis Sublett, middle school principal, gave a total enrollment figure of 367 students: fifth grade -- 120, sixth grade -- 128, seventh grade -- 119. Programs for help in math and literacy continue after school hours: Monday -- language arts: Wednesday -- Math. The Wellness Policy satisfies state requirements.
The school is continuing the "Drop Everything and Read" program; everyone participates by stopping to read each day for designated times. Quarterly reading challenges are issued by the principal with competitions in place for readers who succeed. All students and staff participate.
New technology to enhance instruction and improve achievement includes overhead projectors in all classrooms, visual images using united streaming, new computers, scanners and document cameras. Resource teachers are now co-teaching with fifth grade math and written expression teachers, TI Navigator and TI-73 graphing calculators are used by all seventh grade students.
Target Testing is being used this year for pacing instruction and assessing progress. Class schedules are new this year for fifth and sixth graders. Full inclusion is being used as well. Rotation classes meet weekly instead of daily.
School Based Intervention is a review of educational needs and progress of any student who may require additional educational support. Study hall time is provided for fifth and sixth grades. Language arts teachers are participating in TIA (what is taught, when it is taught, how it is taught and how teaching is assessed -- congruency by grade level). Academic Improvement Plans are completed.
In the facilities report, a new boiler has been purchased for installation before cold weather and a surveillance system has been installed for safety of students and staff.
Highland High School, grades 8-12, has a current enrollment of 605 students according to Principal Don Carithers; eighth grade -- 119, ninth grade -- 128, 10th grade 123, 11th grade -- 116, 12th grade -- 119. Rebel Reading continues this year every Tuesday as everyone at the high school takes 20 minutes in the middle of the day to do choice reading silently. This activity is designed to improve comprehension and vocabulary for all content areas.
The high school parental involvement program is directed by Librarian Emily Akins. Assistant Principal Clint Shackelford manages student attendance and transportation. The work necessitated through the Arkansas Public School Computer Network (APSCN) is coordinated by Assistant Principal Mickey Oliver. The entire teaching staff is fully certified and 40 percent have master's degrees.
The Target Test program is being used this year to bolster criterion references test results. Teachers have assistance in designing, planning and evaluating mandated frameworks in math and English. College Board Advanced Placement courses offered this year include biology, world history, calculus, language, literature and U.S. history. Distance Learning offers French I and French II as well as medical terminology and health care (via Ozarka College for certified nursing assistant licensing). Numerous courses are also offered through Arkansas Virtual High School in the computer lab. New vocational agriculture programs offer students the opportunity for learning business techniques.
New computer mini-labs are planned for two literacy classrooms. The eighth grade now employs the "team" method with one teacher in each core area and the four teachers coordinating curriculum activities. Math tutors are available before and after school.
The Highland Gifted and Talented Education (HIGATE) program coordinated by Rachel Faulkner continues to offer experiences and opportunities not normally available in the regular classroom. The "Thinking Class" is provided for students in each classroom in grades K-2, while Pull-Out Programs are used in grades 3-6. Advanced placement and honors classes hold monthly meetings and field trips are available for students in grades 7-12. Highland has elementary, junior high and senior high chess teams and quiz bowl teams competing within the local educational cooperative, at invitational meets and in district, regional and state championships. The school spelling bee and geography bee efforts will continue so that students have the opportunity to compete on county and state levels. Each student this year will do a group community service project, an individual research project, and help with the production of a school newsletter at the middle school level.
The following federal programs are being funded in the Highland School District:
Title I -- $882,081.34 (includes carryover of $179,795.34 plus transfer of $4,633). The Title I program at Highland is school-wide (all students are served). Funds pay for .5 administrative position, .5 secretary position, eight certified positions and nine classified positions. Title I funds also pay for the middle school and high school Before and After School programs, parental involvement activities and supplies, professional development activities for teachers and technology applications such as computers and software across the district.
Title II-A (Teacher Quality) -- $122,586.60 (includes allotment and carryover). This money is used for two reduction teachers in elementary school. A part is used for staff development provided for Highland School District teachers by the educational cooperative at Melbourne.
Title IV-A (Safe and Drug-Free Schools) -- 6,793.32 (includes allotment, carryover and transfer to Title I) -- used to fund activities such as Rebels Against Drugs (RAD) through drug awareness conferences, speakers, etc.
Title V (no allotment).
Title VI (Rural and Low Income Category -- $47,000 expected (carryover $3,074.64). These funds are used to enhance district-wide technology providing equipment such as computers, smartboards, projectors and other technology needs.
Carl Perkins (vocational) -- $36,120. This year's allotment will be used to purchase hydroponic aquaculture equipment for the vocational animal science class, two laptops, and high-end digital microscopes for use in an integrated team effort between biology and animal science.
Technology is used in all Highland classrooms in varying degrees, according to District Technology Coordinator Annette Scribner. All buildings in the Highland School District meet the Children's Internet Protection Act by subscribing to the state filtering system. A local filter also helps further protect students from inappropriate material and Web sites. Twenty-one computers are being recycled and a new literacy lab will be in place in two high school English classrooms.
Special Services Coordinator Martin Estes presented a budget report totaling $930,050 including these items: staff of one school psychology specialist, two licensed speech language pathologists, 10 licensed special eduction teachers, 10 certified paraprofessionals. The district contracts with one occupational therapist and one physical therapist. The state equalization obligation amounts to $483,553; Title VI B allocation is $319,000; reduction is $11,139; school-based mental health grant is $60,250. The Highland School District serves 200 students covered by the Individual Disabilities Act and 30 qualifying students under Act 504.