Manila Superintendent Charolette Wagner asked Connie Adams, Manila gifted and talented instructor, to speak to the board Monday night sharing information on the Advanced Placement Program (AP classes).
"I'm sure you have read about the AP program. Some money has been available for workshops and conferences. We did not want to be behind on this," Wagner said. "I feel the board needs to be informed on what is being said about these classes.
"For the five years I've been in GT, I have been hearing AP. The AP program actually started in 1955 but we are hearing about it now. The Advanced Placement Program was stated by the college board and is designed to provide rigorous and challenging courses. The AP program has three components: curriculum, teacher development and assessment. The college board does not provide materials, just the curriculum. There is money available to pay for expenses. There is a national examination for students that take AP classes. After they complete a class they take a national exam, not one the school gives."
Adams explained that the curriculum is consistent nationwide. The curriculum that students in Manila follow is the same as students in other parts of the country.
"Students that complete the AP classes and pass the exam receive weighted grades which are worth more credit than grades earned in regular classes," Adams said.
She pointed out that students that take AP classes are more likely to perform better in college, get scholarships and complete a degree.
"One of the first things schools ask new applicants, especially out of state colleges, is how many AP classes they have had. Ivy League schools will not even look at students that don't have AP courses."
AP classes begin in the tenth grade, but pre-AP classes can start as early as the sixth grade preparing students.
"Personally, I believe there are a lot of things that are going to change in education in Arkansas," Adams said. "I believe that the standards and whether we can meet those standards or not is what will be used to save our school system. Not numbers, but standards. In every meeting I attend the word rigorous and challenging are used in conjunction with the word standards, and at the same time AP is mentioned. I believe it is time to start looking into it and making plans."
Board president Johnny McCain asked Adams for an estimate of what percentage of Manila students might take the AP classes.
"As a rule, AP classes are small in number," Adams said. "I would say the first year maybe 10 or 12 percent. My personal opinion is we'll just have to jump in the deep end and start."
Board member William Davis said he hears it every day from his employees (at Sonic) about their AP classes in college.
"Maybe some these college students could help in motivating our high school students on the AP program," Davis said.
"What do we have to do to kick this off?" Board member Jackie Hill asked.
Superintendent Wager said schools will know more what is expected before too long.
"Some smaller schools are putting the AP in with classes. We can model off some of these schools. We think there is a way, it may not be the perfect way, but a way," Wagner said.
Wagner spoke on the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and School Improvement.
"Our combined scores met standard. We have received a corrected version of the subgroup that showed a problem and it is better. Our high school graduation rate is okay and elementary attendance is okay. Scores for the sixth grade only are for two years of data and it is supposed to be three. Mrs. Caster has appealed this. It is looking better," Wagner said. "As far as we can tell, we are doing okay"
The board approved the 2003-04 Academic Standards and Expected Outcomes, the 2003-04 Arkansas Consolidated school Improvement Process, the high school student handbook and the elementary disciplinary handbook.
Elementary Principal Pam Caster gave board members a 16-page copy of the Standards for Accreditation for Arkansas Public Schools.
"You will be hearing a lot about standards in the future," Caster said.
Principal Diane Wagner spoke on the work done on the required paper work including district plan, salaries, elementary plan, high school and junior high plan, curriculum framework, alignment, parent involvement.
"All federal programs come from this," Wagner said. It is a lot of work. We have already been approved on several areas. It changes often. We are following every guideline. We go to meetings and come back and share the information. We work on this every day. It is a living, breathing, document. It is nonstop and more is added all of the time."
"You can see what a task it is for our teachers," Superintendent Wagner said.
The board voted to purchase five additional cell phones from Altell to be used for the long route buses.
"These phones will only be used for emergency situations," Wagner said.
Following an executive session, the board voted unanimously to hire Whitney Wager as a special education instructor, contingent on Wager being released from her contract with Crowley's Ridge Education Service Coop, for the spring semester 2003-04 school year with the salary based on the salary scale.
In other business:
*The board discussed classified employee salary scale, but no action was taken. Board member Rob Veach said he agreed that guidelines were needed but if a scale is set and the district is not able to give the raises, it could cause problems. Superintendent Wagner asked the board to think about it, and she would look into how other schools deal with it.
*Board members were given copies of the model policies and a list of committee members working on it.
*Wagner informed the board that the mini bus had been repaired. The parts were under warranty and only cost the district $58.44.
*Wagner also said while the handicapped bus was out for repairs, the Jonesboro School District loaned Manila a handicapped bus to us.
*The board voted 7-0 to go with section VI B of the Class Action Law Suit on the Boll Weevil Eradication.
*Following a discussion, the board voted 7-0 to give a one-time $600 check to help the elementary booster club meet their obligations.
*The board voted to appoint McCain to be the delegate at the upcoming convention. Donald Master was elected at the last meeting but informed the board that he would not be able to attend.
*The board voted to change the January meeting to Thursday, Jan. 22. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.