Report to the public made at Riverside School Board meeting

Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Riverside High School Principal Jeff Priest gives annual report.

Riverside School Board elected officers for the coming year during the Monday, Nov. 3, meeting held on the Caraway campus. Officers elected by unanimous votes were Greg Douglas, president; Mike Brickell, vice president; Len B. Nall, secretary. Other board members are Mike Brown and Rick Austin.

Superintendent Tommy Knight reviewed the financial report with board members reporting revenue received from property taxes in the amount of $233,519. Mr. Knight said the District will probably receive another check this month and should receive more in May. Also he reported on the Foundation funding which the school receives every month except July. The board unanimously approved the financial report.

Mark Cahoon with Cahoon Steiling architecture firm gave a construction update.

Cahoon said the plans have been submitted and approved for the construction of a new bus shed on the west campus. It is ready to be advertised and construction managers, Tate Construction, will be taking care of that. He went on to talk about the construction of the new elementary on the East campus. He said the bid opening will be held Thursday, Nov. 6, at the meeting room (the former home economics room) on the East campus.

"I think there will be about 26 bid packages," he said. "No action will be taken at the time of opening. Sometimes what appears to be the low bid may not be correct. Something could be missing. We will get back with you in a few days with the final results and you can call a special meeting if you want. Weather permitting, the work should start immediately."

They discussed soil and tile for the project. Brickell said the soil will be donated.

Mr. Knight said it is time to make the annual report to the public. Principals Jeff Priest, high school; LeeAnn Harrell, west elementary; and Brandi Wallace, east elementary; gave a detailed report of activities.

Mr. Priest congratulated students for several accomplishments including the boys tennis team receiving back to back state champions. Levi Reed and Gavin Stone defeated Kollin Stone and Jon Milligan, all Riverside students, in the doubles finals. Devin Austin finished third in singles and Grant Mason finished fourth. All six boys made all State. The girls tennis team finished third overall. Natalie Milligan and Chelsea Nichols made All State.

"We implemented a Spirit Week Oct. 13-17," Priest said. "We extended it down to the elementary getting all students involved. Greg Rainwater was guest speaker. We want to continue this each year and invite former employees or alumni to come back and talk to our students. The week ended with a Meet the Rebels sponsored by the Booster Club with over 250 in attendance."

Mr. Priest also recognized five high school choir members, Chris Ditto, Sam Meurer, Madison Black, Karlee Sanders and Brittany Ditto, and two junior high students, Asia Equia and Kayla Ditto, for making All Region Choir.

"Our choir has also been invited to sing at the State Capital in December," Priest said. "Also, for the first time Riverside boy golfers, Larry Tilley and Cannon Smith, qualified for State. Larry Tilley made All State."

During an in-service day in September all of the high school staff were trained and certified in CPR by Medic 1.

A group of high school students in Mrs. Haas's class have adopted residents from the local nursing center and will visit twice a month. Also, eight students received first place at the Craighead County fair, 15 placed second and seven placed third.

Mr. Priest also announced the recent test scores were the highest the district has received over the last five years. Riverside was named a high-achieving high school by the U of A.

"We are proud to get that award," Priest said.

EOC test scores were: algebra I 98 percent; geometry 68 percent; literacy 7th grade 68 percent, 8th grade 79 percent, and 11th 69 percent; biology 67 percent.

Science is the only subject not proficient or above.

LeeAnn Harrell, west elementary principal, said students of the month have been replaced with students of the week giving more students the opportunity to be recognized. Students of the week will be named and those who are chosen will have posters displayed in the cafeteria.

"It is working out well," she said. "The students seem to like it."

West elementary is giving brag tags to all students for good behavior, grades, attendance, etc. Students will need at least 20 to participate in fun day at the end of the years. Students will get brag tags for honor roll, accelerated reading, and more.

Ms. Harrell said remediation is built into the regular schedule this year.

"All teachers including art, library, physical education and classroom teachers are working with the students," she said. "We have different variations. TLI test is used to come up with data needed to see what students need to work on. It is a computerized test. One objective going from Arkansas Frameworks to Common Core is to fill in the gaps."

Mr. Priest said the high school also uses TLI, it is being used from K-12. All teachers are working together. Every kid starting in ninth grade will have to take an on-line class. Students go through the process of learning CPR and will have knowledge of it if they choose to go on to become certified.

Riverside East Principal Brandi Wallace reported East attendance up in grades K-6. Currently there are 178 students, up from the end of last year which ended at 160. Average class size is 14 students.

"We are currently using research-based interventions to help struggling students in literacy and math. Interventions are provided by our Title I paraprofessionals or by the classroom teachers," she said. "We have a 30 minutes intervention time for grades K-3. One teacher does intervention while the other teacher provides enrichment for the students who need challenged. The fourth through sixth grade students are pulled from their class for intervention. Literacy time has been increased to allow for the interventions. Students considered at risk receive 30 minutes of one-on-one intervention a day and students at some risk receive 30 minutes of small group intervention a day."

Ms. Wallace said in determining which type of literacy intervention students need, testing data was used. Depending on the analysis, students are receiving intervention in Barton, Read Naturally, or 95 percent group phonemic awareness. Barton is an intervention designed for students with dyslexia. It also provides students who may not have dyslexia with a good foundation in phonics. Read Naturally is a program to help students increase their reading fluency. Students who are not ready for Barton are working in interventions with 95 percent group phonemic awareness.

She said mClass as well as extra practice from IXL are used in math to help students. IXL is a computer program which students are able to work on their level to meet standards. Students who are not in intervention are also provided with this program. Students can work on IXL when they have extra time in class or at home.

"We have also provided time for students who were basic or below basic on the Benchmark to have remediation to improve their Benchmark scores. We continue to use TLI this year. It is set up like the PARCC test we will take at the end of the year. This will help students to have a better understanding of the setup of the test, as well as having practice taking the test on a computer. TLI also provides teachers with feedback on instruction they have just taught. They are able to see if students grasp the concepts or if they need to go back and reteach," Ms. Wallace said.

She went on talk about the new dyslexia law this which went into affect this year. It was passed to help schools provide necessary screenings to determine students who might possibly have dyslexia.

"We were already doing all of the screenings except one," she said. "We added that screening this year.

"Our biggest issue in literacy is our writing scores. Our K-6 teachers were recently provided with writing professional development to help improve our writing scores. Our new math teacher for 4th-6th grades is using a lot of Cognitively Guided Instruction, which consists of a lot of deeper thinking from the students. I believe this will greatly improve our math scores."

Wallace said students are provided with learning experiences that tie in with instructions. Kindergarten learned how apples grow and were able to go pick apples and make homemade applesauce in September. Students enjoyed a Ron Cole concert highlighting the importance of not bullying and staying drug free in October. Students enjoyed a '50s sock hop on the 50th day of school.

Mrs. Wallace said the Star Lab will be on campus and present a program on Native Americans in November. In December the Arkansas Preservation Society will present Haunted Arkansas to the third through sixth grade students. The Studio for Arts in Pocahontas will present the musical Snoppy for K-3 and Harriet Tubman for grades 4-6.

She also reported on the wellness committee meeting and the Mighty Milers group.

Mr. Knight said several east and west elementary students went to the Forum to see a production of Grease. Riverside had four high school students in the production.

Mr. Knight reported the district's enrollment as of Monday was 805.

"It is down a little from last year at this time but up 15 from the start of school," he said. "It is going back up."

He said the district is close to getting out of needs improvement status missing it by a small percentage last year.

In other business:

*The board approved the transfer request of two students.

*Mr. Knight made the report on the upcoming in-service dates for the school board members to attend.

*The board passed a resolution to do business with Quick Shop. Mr. Knight explained because the owners' wife is an employee of the district, a resolution needs to be approved.

*The district will host a Veteran's Day assembly at 10 a.m. Nov. 11, the band and choir will perform and the veterans will be treated to lunch.

*The next scheduled meeting will be 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1, in the meeting room at the superintendent's office in Lake City.

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