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Story Archives: Winnsboro school faces state control
|Winnsboro school faces state control|
Winnsboro Elementary School is not making the grade and the state could take control of it.
That is the case in light of a Louisiana Department of Education report, which indicated Winnsboro elementary has not met satisfactory progress goals set by the Recovery School District of Louisiana more than two years ago.
In the 2008 reporting year, Winnsboro elementary narrowly missed a 10-point improvement goal in state standardized testing scores. Because the recovery school district examines schools based on a two-year model, Winnsboro elementary still lags and the state could seize the school.
"The school performance scores are in the 40's for the past five years," said Mary Posey, an educational consultant for the recovery district.
Any score below 60 means a school can be designated academically unacceptable. Under the current system developed by State Superintendent of Education Paul G. Pastorek, any school that remains below 60 for four years is subject to state control.
Winnsboro Elementary has remained below 50 points for more that five years.
Posey outlined the 2008 scores at the most recent meeting of the Franklin Parish School Board.
Posey said the scores will be finalized in coming days and forwarded to Pastorek with her recommendations.
"We will be finalizing these reports, including the recommendations for Supt. Pastorek, who will review them and make his recommendations to BESE on Dec. 4," Posey said. He was referring to a December meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Dr. Lanny Johnson, superintendent of Franklin Parish Schools, said the lower-than-expected test scores were disheartening. He also said he expects the recovery school district to find many of the same problems Franklin Parish officials have struggled to solve.
"If the state takes over, they'll hire a consulting firm to come in and essentially restaff the whole school according to their requirements," Johnson said.
"It's frustrating and I think they will run into the same problem recruiting teachers that we have had," Johnson said.
District performance scores indicated 32 schools across northeast Louisiana were qualified for state intervention because of testing scores below 60.
Of those 32 schools, Winnsboro Elementary has shown the most improvement, with a score of 42.7.
That's a significant increase over the 2007 testing year, when the school scored just over 36 points.
The formula for performance scores is based on a two-year average.
Posey highlighted a major factor as cause for Winnsboro elementary's woes: a lack of certified teachers working at the school.
"Over the five-year period, the school has had 80 percent certified teachers and a 31 percent teacher turnover, losing about one-third of your teachers," Posey said. "In that same period, there were an average of 480 students and 330 out of school suspensions,"
"That's a red flag," Posey added.
During an audit and monitored visit, state officials reviewed test scores for the third, fourth and fifth grades.
While the school has demonstrated improvement, Posey said the determining factor in her audit report isn't just raw numbers.
"When we look at student test scores, we're looking for a score of basic or above, which indicates that the student is at grade-level in that subject," Posey said.
According to Posey " 26 percent of third graders attending Winnsboro Elementary scored basic or above in English Language Arts;
20 percent of third graders scored basic or above in mathematics;
17 percent of fourth graders scored basic or above in English Language Arts and six percent scored Basic or above in mathematics;
29 percent of fifth graders scored basic or above in English Language Arts;
19 percent scored basic or above in mathematics;
Posey compiled the report from data gathered from a monitored visit and follow-up visit to the school.
"During our monitored visits, we looked at every aspect of the school and then assigned each category a point value," Posey continued. "Then we look at the rubric scale to decide which of the four options we recommend that the school be placed in."
Posey said there are four possibilities for the school, ranging from a contract between the district school board and the recovery district to taking over the school and operating it as a charter school managed by a private company.
Winnsboro Elementary principal Fay Philips said she would attend the BESE board December meeting to see what the state decides to do with her school.
"We've only had a year to make improvements,"said Philips who took the helm at Winnsboro elementary last year.
Philips said it was a year marked by major improvements.
"Our scores increased from 36 to 49.5, but they are averaged in with the year before," Philips continued. "The teachers work hard and I am confident our next scores will be in the 50's."
While Philips expressed dismay, she said there was not much the school or the parish school board could do to influence the outcome.
"We just have to wait for BESE's decision at this point," Philips said.
Posey said the report from the scholastic audit and monitored visits would be available by the end of the week.
In the event of a state takeover, all teaching positions in the school would be open for hire, meaning a number of teachers could lose their jobs.
Johnson told the school board that several teachers at Winnsboro elementary were tenured and would need to be placed elsewhere in the school system if not rehired at Winnsboro elementary by the recovery school district.
In other business news, Bernard Wollerson, representative of the Bus Driver's Association, spoke on behalf of parish drivers regarding bus maintenance and repair.
"It's an imposition for a driver to have to take a bus to the shop and wait two or three hours for it to be repaired," said Wollerson. "The busses are not getting repaired because the drivers don't have time to take them in."
Wollerson also asked the school board to consider adjusting the time schedule for students at Crowville waiting on the bus from the high school.
In the superintendent's report, Johnson recommend to the board that three regular busses and one bus equipped for special education students be leased at a total cost of $36,000.
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