Salem School District discusses the Annual Report to the Public

Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Pictured above is Salem Superintendent Wayne Guiltner discussing items with the 14 parents and faculty that attended the Annual Report to the Public.
Quinn Ziliak

The Salem School Board ran concurrent with the annual report to the public Oct. 16, at 6 p.m. All board members were in attendance, as well as the administrative staff and 14 parents.

Superintendent Wayne Guiltner began his presentation with the school districtís mission statement: ďIt is the mission of Salem Schools to educate all students by providing a challenging curriculum that promotes higher-order thinking skills, technology integration, and problem-solving through relevant and engaging activities. We will provide the experiences necessary for all students to become college and career ready.Ē

Guiltner noted there are currently 834 students total, which is an increase of almost 90 students in the past five years. All teachers are currently licensed at Salem Schools.

Guiltner discussed facility changes that took place over the summer. Some of these projects include the new outdoor agriculture laboratory, parking lot repairs, updated gym doors with ability to monitor, new flooring in the elementary library, new frisbee golf and new chair backs that came after the annual meeting. Future projects include switching over to LED lighting at both campuses and adding more surveillance cameras.

The school district outsourced food service with OPAA! There are three times more students eating breakfast and lunch than last year. There are many more options for the kids to eat, resulting in more students choosing to eat at the school.

In regards to academics, Guiltner noted continuing partnerships with area colleges. At ASU-Mountain Home (ASUMH), there is welding, nursing and automotive to name a few technical programs offered to the school. The school offers to pay for one concurrent three-credit course per semester, which allows the capacity for a student to obtain 24 credit hours. A student can also take more classes than that. Ozarka College is offering to allow students to take three-hour classes at half the regular cost, resulting in $150 per class. Salem High School has also partnered with the University of Arkansas-Monticello, which provides online classes, for free. ASUMHís classes are also provided at no cost.

Guiltner noted that the district continues to keep parents involved and informed. Home Access Center, where parents can check attendance and grades of their child, and Easy School Pay, where a parent can go online and pay for the childís balance, are available online.

Elementary

Elementary Principal Corey Johnson also provided a report. Johnson noted that the kindergarten class has 55 students; first grade has 56 students; second grade has 63 students; third grade has 59 students; fourth grade has 88 students; fifth grade has 61 students and sixth grade has 66 students, for a total of 449 students at the elementary school.

Johnson informed those in attendance about the school district trying to introduce technology at a younger age. Along with the Ozobots, the fifth and sixth grade students are using coding applications to begin preparing young to be ready for the future technological boost in the job market. Chromebooks are introduced in kindergarten, and are utilized through the twelfth grade.

High school

Salem High School Principal Cody Curtis presented the report for the high school. Curtis began by noting that they high school news on the principalís page on the school website is updated weekly. Curtis stressed the high schoolís goal is to ensure the students are college or career ready by the time they graduate.

Currently, there are 68 students in seventh grade; 67 students in eighth grade; 69 students in ninth grade; 57 students in tenth grade; 65 students in eleventh grade and 59 students in twelfth grade, for a grand total of 385 students. There are almost 30 students per class. At some point in time, there will be a need to expand the school. There have always been teachers who share classrooms, but Curtis noted that this is getting more challenging.

Federal programs

David Turnbough, the federal programs director, was the next with a presentation. He noted that the golden rule within receiving federal programs is supplement instead of supplant, which means that instead of creating new programs, Turnbough needs to work to ísupplementí, which means adding to what is already there. As an example, Turnbough said instead of purchasing textbooks, his guidelines would be to purchase something that would correspond with the respective classís curriculum and textbook.

Turnbough is also the homeless and foster care liaison. Though there are 48 students listed as homeless, 19 of those students are in foster care. The other students are technically not without a home, however; they fall under guidelines to be listed as homeless. Turnbough encourages anyone with concerns about a child to talk with him and he will take every action necessary to assist the student.

Turnbough also helps adopt and implement an Internet safety policy for students.

Parent involvement

Nikki Barker, parent of a Salem student, asked when the school district plans to update the playground equipment. Guiltner said something on the playground is updated every year, and this year was the jungle gym. Barker also expressed concern about the schoolís AR (Accelerated Reader) Program and how it benefits students. She is currently housing a foreign exchange student who was experiencing difficulties during the first quarter achieving his points. Curtis assured Barker they would continue to work with the student, as this was an unusual case.

Guiltner mentioned the possibility of future projects such as a tricycle station in the kindergarten section of the playground. A maze for the elementary playground will be eventually purchased, but there isnít a tentative date set for the purchase.

Karen Hallís concerns included gym time, transportation and utilizing lunch grants. She mentioned other schools in the area who receive free lunch programs through a grant. Hall asked why the school district couldnít participate in that.

Guiltner said the grant is based on 40-percent of the community receiving food stamps. Currently, the district isnít anywhere close to that number.

Lynn Mitchell inquired about the variety of lunches. She noted that her children were picky eaters, and by the time they came home from school, they were hungry. Guiltner noted that through this new OPAA! lunch program that there were more students eating, with less food waste accumulating. There are two lunch options provided, as well as a fruit and salad bar and ďa la carte.Ē

Jessica Moss inquired about extending recess. Guiltner said there are 10 schools across the state who are currently volunteering for a program that provides more play time to see if there is a positive increase, or a decrease, in grade averages. Decisions regarding changing recess time will be made once the results are available.

Rainy day activities were also brought up by Leslie Scribner. Johnson noted that when there were that many students in the gym, there were disciplinary issues that resulted. Johnson said the students are also allowed to go to the cafeteria, where they are allowed to talk or walk.

Johnson also said Melinda Coffman, of the Fulton County Extension Office, brought yoga mats to the school, and there were classes that were able to participate in yoga, through the use of Youtube tutorials.

Hall asked if the agriculture building is going to be utilized more in the future, and if the students will begin to participate in shows. Guiltner said there are 30 shows within a year, and the district is concerned that studentsí academic performance may falter, as shows would cut into class time.

Moss asked if there was a financial concern in jumpstarting the agriculture program, and suggested creating a booster program to coincide with the agriculture program. Guiltner noted it isnít a financial concern, but more of a concern in interfering with classes.

Guiltner noted that the district has begun discussion with local agriculturalists in letting the school use livestock in order to educate students.

Hall inquired about the gymnasiumís hours and who can utilize the gym after school. The gym is open from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday. High school athletic programs have first priority to access the gym, and then pee wee programs take second priority. If the students that arenít involved in programs arenít interfering with practices, then they can utilize the gym. Grades kindergarten through sixth grade must have parents with them.

Hall inquired if the weight room was also open during this time. Guiltner noted that unless the high school athletics programs werenít using the weight room, then they would be able to use it, along with the batting cages.

Board meeting

After the annual report to the public, the school board discussed other items on the agenda. The first was to consider approval of the Equity Compliance Report. The report entailed verifying that the school district was with in compliance for the 2017-18 year. Koelling made a motion to approve the report, and Abney seconded the motion.

Guiltner again touched on the surveillance camera installation, as well as the magnetic strips that were installed on the doors. Guiltner commended Shawn Windsor and Matt Davey, as well as Curtis who assisted. Guiltner noted that the installation by school employees saved the district a lot of money.

Curtis provided the student recognition report. In academics, Curtis provided ACT data from the September ACT testing period. Six students took the exam, of those, three students fell within the 19-23 composite score range and two students fell within the 31-36 composite score range. The average reading score was 23.6; the average math score was 21.5; the average English score was 26.3; the average science score was 22.6; the average STEM score was 22.3 and the average composite score was 24.

In athletics, the girls golf team was the 2017 Class 2A state runner-up, which is the second year in a row that the team has earned this. The team consists of Katie Costner, Dagni Hall, Anna Neal, Kendra Rich and Jaiden Strong. Katie Costner and Dagni Hall were selected as all state.

The last and final item on the agenda was the financial report. After review, Coffman approved the report, with all members in agreement.

With nothing else left on the agenda, Abney made a motion to adjourn. The next meeting with be Monday, Nov. 20, at 6 p.m.

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