• 50°

Preparing For Allergic Reactions

CUMBERLAND – Cumberland County Public Schools has taken strides to meet Virginia's new allergic reaction preparedness requirements, which will allow the division to act quickly in the event an emergency arises during the school day.

Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin provided the update concerning the epinephrine pen policy that was first presented last month. The pens are being required in each of the division's three schools.

“The EpiPen guidelines are in there…,” she said during the July School Board meeting when referring to policy changes. “They came out last week and we will be required to have four EpiPens per school-two of the juniors and two of the regular size EpiPens.”

According to Dr. Griffin all staff members will be trained on signs of an allergic reaction.

“There will be two people per building trained to actually use the EpiPen on the student,” she said.

Calendar Change

In other news, the new school year's calendar, which has already been approved by the School Board, already needs a revision.

According to Dr. Griffin, Cumberland County Public Schools have collaborated with Longwood University and coordinated a Region VIII forum with speaker, Rafe Esquith, on November 6. The event will be hosted in Jarman Hall and Esquith will speak on “revolutionizing education.”

November 6 is scheduled as a regular school day on the approved calendar and Dr. Griffin requested that the calendar be revised to make November 6 a professional workday for teachers and administrators so that they can attend the regional forum.

The schools would be closed for students, she offered.

<!– 1upcrlf2 –>”I would like to ask that November 6 be changed from a regular school day to a professional workday…,” asked Dr. Griffin. “…Longwood has actually donated Jarman Hall for us so their students can actually attend. The students that are wanting to be teachers can actually hear Rafe speak as well. I'm asking that become a professional workday and students stay home.”

A makeup day for students was not included in Dr. Griffin's request.

“This is the reason why,” she said, “because we do actually go 162 hours per class and we're only required to go 140 so we do have that leeway and I…felt like if we had made this decision in the middle of the calendar development then it would have been fair to add the day for students but right now it's something that I decided to do…”

Dr. Griffin added, “I don't want it to become a negative thing that we're adding, if we do this professional thing, that we have to add another day for students and I feel like it would make the professional development a negative thing.”

She continued, “We're excited. It's really going to support our embracing 21st Century learning and thinking outside the box about what a teacher does inside the classroom and really looking into your passions and the love of teaching and how that can influence the students in your classroom and doing whatever it takes to get the students to learn and really tap into those things. I'm really excited.”

The change in the calendar will be up for final approval during the School Board's August 13 meeting.

Summer School

Principals Mark Mabey and Jeff Dingeldein each gave presentations about the recent summer school session.

According to Mabey, the Middle School went back to the basics and kept the weeks student-centered and project-based.

“It made a nice little mix,” he said. “It worked out really nice. The Elementary School and the Middle School worked collaboratively together…”

“Everything went very well and they did a nice job in writing,” he added.

Dingeldein said, “We did a lot of focus on our 21st Century skills and we did have project-based learning tied into a lot of our enrichment activities.”

Dingeldein noted the courses that were provided in enrichment and in credit recovery.

There was an average attendance of 120 students during the first two weeks, he said, and dropped down to 85 the last two weeks.

“That's kind of to be expected,” he offered. “We do try to test our students at the end of the first two weeks-we think they are ready so we test them so they don't have to come the additional two weeks. Our attendance did come down the second two weeks during summer school.”

According to Dingeldein, the remediation side of summer school allows students to complete a course or jump back into a course that they were originally not successful in during the regular school year.

The High School's summer school remediation accounted for 55 verified credits being recovered, stated Dingeldein.

Payroll Dates

The payroll dates for the 2012-2013 year were approved as follows: August 31, September 28, October 31, November 30, December 18 (Winter Break), January 31, February 28, March 29, April 30, May 30, and June 27.

December 18 is the last official working day for 10-month employees for the month, according to the information provided.

School Board Business

The School Board approved two student variance requests presented by the administration and authorized the Superintendent to make a line item transfer related to the management of funds. The policy DA concerns management of funds and gives the School Board authority to authorize the Superintendent to make these line item transfers within the budget throughout the year.

The board also recommended that the Superintendent accept the lowest fuel price bid at the Region VIII fuel meeting. Cumberland currently accepts bids with the following school divisions for heating oil, propane, diesel fuel, and unleaded regular gas: Appomattox, Amelia, Brunswick, Charlotte, Mecklenburg, and Prince Edward.

The school's administration was also given permission to petition the Cumberland Board of Supervisors for its surplus auction appropriation in the amount of $16,580.25.

Concerning the procurement procedures, the School Board also authorized the Superintendent or her designee to prepare specification and bid documents for all procurements.

The board also approved the final payment of bills for the year and the July payroll for 2011-2012 was also approved as presented.

Policy Revisions

Policies CGN and CGN-R, correlated with teaching evaluations and the teaching evaluation tool, were also presented.

“That is the new evaluation tool that the state is having us to reform…what we already have in place,” explained Chair Ginger Sanderson.

Dr. Griffin added, “What this tool is based on is the Department of Education has provided guidelines…and made a uniform for across the state of Virginia.”

When asked what these changes would mean for Cumberland Elizabeth Jamerson, Cumberland's human resources supervisor, answered questions.

“From our previous evaluation procedures there's not a whole lot of difference,” explained Ms. Jamerson. “The big debate is, of course, tying student progress to the evaluation and there's lots of ways you can do that but the state has sort of tightened up on this one particular part and said that you really need to make that a significant part.”

The student progress part of the evaluation is set to count as 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation and 20 percent of that overall 40 will need to be SOL scores and the student growth percentile for the classes that have a student growth percentile.

“That's the big difference,” she noted. “But we've always counted student progress as part of our evaluation tool.”

The other 20 percent, according to Ms. Jamerson, could be other data-driven scores from elementary school students, for example.

“Anything that's at the appropriate level that will measure student growth,” she added. “The one thing that it can't be, of course, is, say, class grades. It has to be something that's data-driven.”

The student evaluation policies passed on a three to two vote.

School Board members Dr. Christine Ross and George Lee Dowdy III voted against the policy changes proposed by the state.

“The teacher will develop their growth measure and it will be approved by the principal,” suggested Dr. Griffin, “because not everyone has SOL scores…”

“We in Cumberland have always used data when doing evaluations so this is not a new concept,” she continued. “When we try to relieve teachers' fears about this…we will all work on this together but it's a state requirement with guidelines.”

Relay For Life

A Relay for Life token of appreciation was given to Cumberland County Public Schools in appreciation for the sponsorship in support of the American Cancer Society through the 2012 Cumberland Relay for Life.

CTE Certifications

Cumberland High School students receiving career and technical education credentials in the nurse aid examination, workplace readiness skills, craft skills, computer software skills, and career readiness during the past school year were recognized.

Helping Hand

This month the board honored the volunteers who've been assisting with the creation of the teaching garden on Cumberland's campus. The school division has partnered with several community groups to implement the project, including the Cumberland Extension Office, the NAACP, and the Master Gardeners.

The volunteers recognized were Mariah Baber, Mary Dimmie, Linda Eanes, Patty Elton, Ann Mason Field, Jo Anne Jones, Harry Marshall, Stephanie Osl, Connie Pepper, Jerry Seal, and David Smith.

Board Comments

Dr. Ross restated her views in relation to the teacher evaluation tool being mandated by the state. Her views were originally stated during June's board meeting.

“I can't support that piece,” she said about the policies, adding that the requirement should involve pre-tests or portfolios as an evaluation tool.

Eurika Tyree offered her excitement for the new school year.

Ms. Sanderson also addressed the new school year and said the “teachers are the leaders.”

The Board's new goal calls for being “student-centered” and “teacher-inspired.”

“They are the leaders, the spirit, and the force,” she concluded.