Berryville enrollment up

Sunday, September 25, 2011

BERRYVILLE -- Enrollment is up at Berryville Schools by some 60 students, just 11 shy of the 2,000 mark as of mid-September.

Some of the new students are previous home schoolers who have joined the public sector.

The middle school saw the largest leap with 477 students, up 25 from last year.

These and other figures were released Monday when school administrators presented their annual report to the public at the Berryville Board of Education meeting.

Middle School Principal Matt Summers said they had the largest group of students ever and they had prepared for the increase by employing more teachers. The only problems, he said, were in the cafeteria and at recess, besides having only one counselor, one principal and one secretary to handle the nearly 500 adolescents filling the halls.

Doug Harris reported on facilities, saying Berryville Schools has 31 buildings on two campuses, representing some 400,000 square feet that are cleaned and maintained by the district's 12 custodians and three maintenance men.

Many special requests were handled through the School Dude work order system, he said, with nearly all work completed within seven days of receiving an order.

Superintendent Dr. Randy Byrd touched on the highlights of his report, saying he "couldn't be happier" with the facilities. He said they still have roofs that leak "but we are very close to maintaining what we have."

The district has utilized its resources to give the students and teachers what they need, he said. High school literacy is no longer on the state's improvement list, and financially the district is in good shape with a $2.2 million carryover.

With that, he noted, they were able to make improvements and give teachers and staff a $1,500 Christmas bonus last year -- while other districts were struggling.

"I'm proud we are doing so well," he said. "We are really, really in good shape."

Byrd also noted the district was going to "Common Core," which he described as "a whole different way of teaching."

Common Core, he later explained, is based on a common set of standards schools across the nation are to adopt. Arkansas was a leader in developing the standards that provide appropriate benchmarks for all students, regardless of where they live.

Elementary K-2

The only Berryville school having to adopt Common Core this year is the K-2 school, said Principal Teresa Wright.

"It's not more, but you go deep," she explained.

At that school, with its population of 458 students in grades kindergarten, first and second, Jill Jones and Christy Graham, the elementary math and reading specialists, have developed an intervention program that identifies students needing help and works with them outside the classroom to "fill the gap," said Wright.

She noted that the K-2 school is considered a "feeder school" to the intermediate because their students are not tested. It is also a Title 1 school, meaning any student needing academic assistance is given help through the interventionists who are paid with federal monies.

Intermediate

At the intermediate school, Principal Shelly Osnes spoke highly of the Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Program grant they received that teaches students about the vegetables they eat, where they come from, their history, and their nutritional value.

"They learn about what they're being served," she said.

A new greenhouse is going up at the outdoor classroom, she reported, along with new raised beds, kid friendly composting bins, heirloom plants and clear panels at the pavilion.

She has 440 students in grades three, four and five. The percentage of those students scoring proficient or advanced on the Benchmark has consistently been higher each year -- with one exception.

In 2011, 91 percent of fourth graders scored proficient or advanced in math, down from 93 percent the previous year.

High school

At the high school where there are 514 students in grades 9-12, there are 37 full-time faculty, 14 shared faculty and 20 support personnel, said Owen Powell, who was speaking on behalf of High School Principal Randal Betts.

Besides the standard curriculum, there are 12 vocational courses offered on campus and at North Arkansas College, he said, plus nine Advanced Placement classes and two concurrent college credit programs. The campus also boasts a commercial kitchen to enhance the culinary arts program.

Most importantly, he said, it has met "Safe Harbor" requirements the last two years with its 11th grade literacy testing, meaning it should now be off the state's school improvement list.

Transportation

Powell also reported on district transportation, saying two-thirds of all students ride school buses.

They transport more than 1,200 students daily on their 21 full-time routes, covering 1,200 miles a day. That number does not include athletics, band, activities or field trips.

Last year nearly 35,000 miles were clocked for activity trips.

Fundraisers

Approved were the sale of magazines by the choir, chocolate covered pretzels and suckers by the musical theatre group, mochas and hot chocolate by student council and quiz bowl, a canned food drive by the library, and face and window painting by the art club.

Other

The board approved a maternity leave request submitted by Mindy Hicks. Also approved were the federal programs budget and Act 59 program funding, the preliminary ACSIP plan, special education budget, general disclosure statements, and the district operating budget.

The board is set to meet again Monday, Oct. 17, at 6 p.m. in the intermediate school cafetorium.

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