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School Board Discusses Adequate Yearly Progress, Annual Report

By Staff | Aug 30, 2011

Members of the Emmetsburg Community Schools Board of Education discussed the district’s Adequate Yearly Progress and the Superintendent’s Annual Report during their meeting on Aug. 15.

Superintendent John Joynt provided information on the process of filing an official appeal regarding the district’s federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report-a requirement of the No Child Left Behind law. Emmetsburg Community School District was on the watch list for middle school students and middle school students on free and reduced lunch for reading, however those scores were raised. Despite this success, the district has now been placed on the watch list in a new category: students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). As a result, the district has been named a School In Need of Assistance (SINA).

“We were successful getting off the ‘watch list’ in two categories, but then went on the list in another category,” explained Joynt. “I thought we’d like to celebrate our success and have appealed. I am waiting to see if anyone from the Department of Education agrees with that.”

Joynt shared that as a SINA, there are no sanctions for the district. However, the school district must work with the Area Education Agency (AEA) as part of a year-long process to come up with an official plan. Parents must also be notified.

Joynt said, “We certainly want to improve, and we’re working on that already.”

“If we’re on the watch list, do we lose federal funding?” asked board member Linda Tienter.

“There’s no loss of federal funds,” answered Joynt. “There’s not a lot of sanctions for several years down the road. Then, they start looking at replacing personnel.”

“What’s the percentage they want to see?” Laure Egland, board member, asked.

“Typically, they want to see you above the state average,” said Joynt. “Last year we were about 45-percent efficient in special education. This year we are about 35-percent efficient.”

“So, we have more special ed kids?” asked Egland.

“Yes, and we’ll have more next year,” Joynt noted. “Seven moved into the district, but they’re not counted yet.”

Board member Tammy Naig wondered what the district’s strategy was to improve those scores.

“We’re working with all the teachers in the building. We have very few that are self-contained in the special ed room,” Joynt said. “We’ve moved a reading teacher to sixth grade, and we did add a special ed teacher at the middle school.”

Naig asked what the ratio of special education students to special education teachers is.

“At the middle school, it’s close to 18 to 1,” Joynt answered.

Don Hagen, board member, asked where the district was getting so many special education students.

“They just moved in,” said Joynt.

“We’ll just have to try and keep on top of that,” said Anderson, bringing the discussion to a close.

In other business, Joynt shared highlights from his 2010-2011 Superintendent’s Annual Report:

Total student enrollment held steady at 744 students. Open enrollment dropped from 101 to 80 students. Open-enrolled students make up 11-percent of the student population.

The district is in good financial condition and ended the 2010-2011 school year with a positive cash balance. It has a large unspent balance in spending authority (spending authority is not cash, only the authority to spend). The district has reduced payroll as a result of early retirements during 2010-2011. A future challenge is funding the 2011-2012 school year with zero-percent allowable growth.

The prospect of adding on to the West Elementary were discontinued when data showed that there was a drop in the birth rate for 2009. Adding a preschool and large sections in third grade resulted in further addition considerations. However, any addition project was tabled due to a decrease in future student numbers and the possibility of eliminating the voluntary preschool program.

Initially, there were reductions in staff for the 2010-2011 school year. However, because of increasing numbers of special education students, a special education teacher was added at midyear. In August, new federal education jobs funding was announced and the district added paraeducators in the general education classrooms at the elementary and middle schools.