By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer
Madison County Schools Superintendent Tommy Floyd dedicated his monthly report at Thursday’s school board meeting to talking about safety in schools.
The district maintains frequent correspondence with Jon Akers, the director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety at Eastern Kentucky University, Floyd said. “We talk a lot. We should talk a lot — best practices are shared.”
Principals also are being trained on how to handle different scenarios while blueprints of each school will be updated on the county’s 911 emergency responders’ database, he said. Every police cruiser also will have school blueprints readily available.
Floyd spoke on his experience as a former high school principal and assistant principal: “The best way I know, as I would get out of the vehicle and walk into that school building, is that I know my kids trust me enough to talk to me about something that scares them. We don’t want anybody scared; we want everybody learning at high levels.”
Developing and promoting trust in each school building also is important for school safety, he said.
“If you are sitting somewhere near one of our schools and you see something, hear something, or think you see something, we need to know about it,” Floyd said. “School safety takes everybody.”
White Hall re-roof project
Also at the meeting, the board approved a BG-1 for a re-roofing project at White Hall Elementary Thursday.
A BG-1 is a form submitted to the Kentucky Department of Education outlining initial estimates and plans for a construction project, said Tony Thomas with Clotfelter-Samokar Architects, which will oversee the project.
The firm has been used for several of the district’s construction projects in the recent past, including construction of the Farristown Middle School and Madison Central High School athletic complex.
Thomas presented an initial estimate of $500,000 – $38,500 of which is the architect/engineer fee based on a sliding scale by the KDE. A contingency of 5 percent of the estimated construction cost will total $25,000, he said.
The cost “can always go down” as bids are received on construction, but the total cost of the project cannot be determined until “we climb on roofs and peel back ceilings.”
For example, in June, workers discovered “unforeseen” problems with Central’s roof. The board responded swiftly by approving a change order of up to an additional $175,000 for the roofing project. The original fixed bid was $200,000.
The White Hall project was on the district’s facility plan of construction needs for roof upkeep.
Several years ago, the district determined that if a new roof was not constructed at a school, then at least 35,000 square feet of a roof should be maintained to stay on schedule with upkeeps, Floyd said.
The district will utilize part of the $1 million of state funds annually available for school construction, he said. “This is the perfect use of that money because this is what that money is intended to do.”
District participates in kindergarten assessment pilot
Starting next year, the state is requiring a screener for all students coming into kindergarten, said Mendy Mills, the district’s instructional supervisor.
Along with a few other districts in the state, Madison County volunteered to participate in the pilot program for the new screener. Teachers were able to give feedback on their assessments, Mills said.
Falling in line with state data, around 60 percent of Madison County children entering kindergarten are not ready for kindergarten but are considered “ready with supports.” That means the children did not know everything on the assessment, Mills said.
“I don’t think that’s quite as alarming as that sounds,” she said. “Many of those children have not had access to preschool or daycare-type settings. And we know those age children get comfortable fast.”
If the assessment was redone six weeks into the school year “the results would be totally different,” Mills said.
The assessment also will allow the district to share data through the Early Childhood Alliance, a partnership between the school districts and local daycare centers to share information on kindergarten readiness.
Parents will be required to fill out a questionnaire about their child’s early childhood learning. The assessment will be shared with the daycare the child attended so they can work on certain areas at their center, Mills said.
However, teachers had concerns with the new assessment, she said, and “they felt like other assessments were much more valuable to them in their instruction.”
For example, “ready with supports” is a “huge range of the score,” Mills said. A child could have been in the 25th percentile and the 80th percentile and still be considered “ready with supports.”
Also, some of the questions on the assessment caused concern, she said. Such as, a child was asked to identify lower case letters and the first three letters were “d”, “b” and “p” — “those are common misconceptions for every child coming into kindergarten.”
Once the child missed three in a row, the instructions of the assessment were to not go any further, she said.
When children were asked to identify colors, they had to say “magenta.” Or, they were supposed to say “waist” when the teacher pointed to it, instead of “tummy” or “stomach.”
“Hopefully (the state) will listen to our concerns,” Mills said.
In other business:
• Newly elected board member Mary Renfro was sworn in
• Board chair Mona Isaacs was re-elected, and Becky Coyle was elected as vice-chair, replacing John Lackey.
• Arno Norwell retired as principal of Foley Middle School. Assistant principal Mark Wall was selected by the school’s site-based council to take his place.
• A district-wide accreditation will take place Feb. 10-14 with AdvanceED, “the world’s largest education community serving more than 30,000 public and private schools and districts across the United States and in more than 70 countries that educate over 16 million students,” according to its website.
• A mid-year calculation shows the district grew from 11,022 to 11,070 students, a difference of 48. The numbers include Model Laboratory schools. The only Madison County school at or above capacity is White Hall Elementary with 731 students.
Crystal Wylie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
623-1669, Ext. 6696.