Eureka Springs school test scores said to be higher

Friday, July 20, 2012

EUREKA SPRINGS -- High school principal Kathryn Lavender had good news on test scores, including Advanced Placement, to share with the Eureka Springs School Board at its regular monthly meeting last Thursday night.

"Algebra I end-of-course was above state levels," she said. "Scores combined were above proficient. The eighth grade was 10 points into advanced."

She said the ninth grade was in the proficient range, only 10 points from the advanced level.

In biology, scores were 40 points above the state, in the proficient range, and 20 points from the advanced level.

Geometry, which ninth through 12th grade students took, was 21 points above the state average and two points from the advanced level.

She said scores were higher than Berryville's, "but a lot of factors go into reading these scores."

High school test scores really shone, she said, in the advanced placement classes.

In a one to five range, students who achieve a three or higher get four hours of college credit for the class.

The history class' seven students had three fours and one three. Of the nine who took calculus, there were two fives and three threes. Of the 10 taking English/language arts, there were two fives and six threes. In biology, there was one four, and in statistics, there was one four and two threes.

Lavender praised the teachers.

"We have some of the best teachers in the state," she said.

A complete report will be released by the state in two weeks, she said.

The board tabled several items for further discussion. While it approved the 2012-13 handbooks for the elementary and middle schools, it tabled the high school handbook until the policy about making up failing scores and being eligible for sports can be clarified. The board will hold a special meeting to discuss it.

Also tabled was a vote on bids for a new phone system for the entire district. Board member Tom Freehling said a couple bids had been received, one from a local company west of Eureka Springs. He said there are two approaches the district can take to a phone system. One is to own its own system and equipment and have someone maintain it; the other is to contract with a company to host the system, provide the equipment and have the company maintain it. He said it was "probably a little more expensive" to do the latter, but not that much more.

There are advantages to contracting with a company, he said. Public money is available for "services" such as this, based on the number of students on the free and reduced lunch program. Because Eureka Springs would qualify, the government would fund 87 percent of the cost of the service. There wouldn't be much available if the district owned its own system.

If the district bought its own system, it would cost $45,000. One bidder quoted $1,200 a month to host it, and with the government funding 87 percent, it would cost the district $150 a month.

"I recommend we pursue a hosted system," he said.

Board member Tom Winters, who has a background in such technology, asked several pointed questions about setting the system up with backbone, routers and switches for all three schools, the bus barn and the administrative building.

"They expect you to have that set up already," he said, of a system host. "To have VOIP, you have to pay $750 a month."

He said he wanted to read the contract particulars, and Freehling and board member Robert McCormick suggested a special meeting for bidders to explain how all of it works.

Bids for bread for the cafeteria were tabled also, as only one bid was received, and it was not from the current provider. This is unusual, noted McCormick, stating there have always been two or three bids. District Treasurer Pam McGarragh said she would contact the current provider to make sure they had received a bid notice.

In other business, the board:

* Approved the financial report and payments to Kinco Constructors and Morrison Architecture. Also approved establishing a new building fund and moving $897,000 into it from the old building fund and $1.150 million from the ending legal balance.

* Approved paid meal price increases across the board by 10 cents in accordance with federal assistance requirements.

* Approved the transfer petitions of two students, one elementary and one high school, into the district from Berryville, with the Berryville school board's approval.

* Returned from executive session to approve the following: the resignation of school nurse Lydia Bush and transportation director Jon Rainwater, acceptance of the non-return of contract by Cynthia Brothers and the hire of Toni Mertzweiller as high school special education teacher, Michelle Allred as high school special education paraprofessional and Robert Belzung as part time bus driver.

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