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STATE REPORT CARDS

12 months ago

ALABAMA STATE REPORT CARD

RELEASED FOR CHAMBERS COUNTY SCHOOLS


CHAMBERS COUNTY, AL – The Alabama Department of Education has released the Alabama State Report Card, containing a letter grade for schools and school systems across the state.

            The Report Card reflects several different factors including academic achievement, academic growth, and chronic absenteeism, as well as graduation rates and college and career readiness for high schools.

 

            The Chambers County School District as a whole received a letter grade of C, and a numerical rating of 76.

 

            “While we are certainly not ecstatic over receiving a ‘C’, we are pleased that our results were in line with the state average,” said Chambers County School Superintendent Dr Kelli Hodge. “In a discussion with principals, I reminded them that the Report Card grade was based on the performance of a single test. We don’t give report card grades to children based on just one assignment. While ‘C’ is average, and most people are supposed to score average, we are not satisfied with staying average. We will use this information to help us improve, but we will not discount all of the areas in which our schools are already showing improvement.”

 

            The State of Alabama introduced the State Report Card this year in compliance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress in 2015, which requires states to report on student academic achievement. The goal of the Report Card is to provide a starting point and to offer easy-to-understand and concise information showing how a school is doing.

 

            However, most of the data used for the State Report Card score was taken from the ACT Aspire Summative Assessment that the State of Alabama used to measure the educational standing of students in grades 3 through 8 and 10 from 2012 until 2017. In June 2017, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to terminate the use of ACT Aspire as the state summative assessment, yet included its data as a major component of the Report Card formula.

 Therefore, the Chambers County Board of Education has joined a growing number of school boards across the state that have adopted a resolution for a Vote of No Confidence for the report card because of the criteria established for measuring assessments, including “chronic absenteeism” that does not recognize excused absences.

 “We are not opposed to a report card that uses multiple measures in an equitable way to report successes or lack thereof in achievement, growth, college and career readiness, graduation rates and student success,” said Hodge. “We are opposed to a report card based on one test that has been discontinued for a number of concerns, including limited reliability and not being aligned with state standards.”

“We welcome a report card that recognizes the millions of dollars in scholarship money our students receive, one which recognizes students who graduate with credentials, college acceptance or military commitments,” Hodge added. “We want a report card that does not unfairly categorize students who work hard to keep up or catch up after having cancer, losing a home to fire, attend school-sponsored events or just have the bad luck of being sick several times in one year.”

According to the data used to measure academic growth and achievement during the 2016-2017 school year, the State Report Card indicated the following results for individual schools in the Chambers County District:

• Bob Harding Shawmut Elementary School – Score: 74 (C) 

• Fairfax Elementary School – Score: 70 (C)

• Five Points School – Score: 75 (C)

• Huguley Elementary School – Score: 86 (B)

 • John P. Powell Middle School – Score: 58 (F)

• Lafayette High School – Score: 74 (C)

• Lafayette Lanier Elementary School – Score: 78 (C)

• Lafayette Eastside Elementary School – Score: 66 (D)

• Valley High School – Score: 75 (C)

• W. F. Burns Middle School – Score: 77 (C)

“While the Report Card definitely has its flaws, it is one tool to highlight what we are doing well and where we need to improve,” said Hodge. “It is not meant to be the only measure of a school’s performance. Rather, it gives us an opportunity to encourage honest conversations about what we need to do to help our students succeed. We are all in this together. Schools, parents and our communities have a role to play in educating our children.” Hodge also pointed out that current initiatives are in place to help schools improve academic achievement, such as parent development workshops conducted at Lafayette  Eastside Elementary designed to teach parents how to encourage reading at home through daily interaction with their children. And, at J. P. Powell Middle School, family math, science and fitness nights are held each month, as well as after-school tutoring in math and reading each week. Similar activities are scheduled on a regular basis in schools throughout the district.

“There will always be opportunities for improvement, and our efforts to provide the best educational experience possible for our students will continue without ceasing,” said Hodge. “We welcome insight, suggestions and involvement from parents and the community to insure our success.”

Additional data and details about the factors used to determine grades for each school are available on the Alabama Department of Education’s website at www.alsde.edu. Parents can also see how their children’s school compares with others of similar demographics.

By David Bell

PITTS RETIRES AS SCHOOL DISTRICT CFO

about 1 month ago

Shown above, from left, are former school superintendent and current Valley Mayor Leonard Riley, Cathy Pitts, and current school superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge.


LaFAYETTE – The Chambers County School District hosted a reception Wednesday in honor of retiring Chief Financial Officer Cathy Gregory Pitts, who has served the district continuously for the past 25 years.

            A native of Chambers County, Pitts graduated Valley High School as Valedictorian in 1977 before attending Southern Union State Community College. It was during this time, while working with a local insurance company, that she was encouraged to pursue a degree in Accounting. Pitts enrolled at Troy University, and later graduated with a double-major degree in Accounting and Computer Information Science.

            “The school system’s former chief financial officer had announced her retirement, and urged me to apply for the position, which I did,” said Pitts. “On April 1, 1993, I was hired by former school superintendent Leonard Riley, and I’ve been here ever since.”

            “It’s been a great job, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with wonderful people,” Pitts added. “I have always been aware of the awesome responsibility that was placed on me, and I’ve tried to fulfill my duties to the full expectations of the school board.”

            In retirement, Pitts plans to travel, do volunteer work, and serve as a mentor for future incoming financial officers around the state through her membership in the Alabama Association of School Business Officials. She is also looking forward to spending more time with her four children and five grandchildren.

            “Cathy is one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever worked with,” said Chambers County School Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge. “She is primarily responsible for the school district’s financial stability over the past 25 years. She has maintained the highest business and ethical standards, and we will greatly miss her.”

Cassandra Dowdell will replace Pitts as the new Chief Financial Officer for Chambers County Schools effective January, 2019. A native of Opelika, Dowdell graduated Opelika High School and attended Troy University, where she earned a Business Administration degree with concentration in Accounting.

After working ten years with Opelika City Schools, Dowdell returned to the classroom and obtained her master's degree. She served as Chief Financial Officer for Monroe County Schools prior to applying for the same position in Chambers County.

"I'm very excited about this opportunity, which also allows me to get back closer to home," said Dowdell. "I look forward to serving in this new capacity."

The Chief Financial Officer is responsible for management of the school system's annual budget, including payroll, operating expenses, and facilities maintenance. 

By David Bell

PRE-REGISTRATION SET FOR PRE-K PROGRAM

11 days ago

Shown above, pre-k students at Fairfax Elementary School enjoy recess activities.


LaFAYETTE – Beginning Tuesday, January 15, 2019, online pre-registration applications will be accepted for Alabama’s Voluntary Pre-K Program in the 2019-2020 school year. Enrollment is open to all children four years of age on or before 9-1-19 who are residents of the Chambers County School District. This pre-registration period will continue through Friday, March 15, 2019.

 

            In order to access the proper forms, parents or guardians should go online to www.alprek.asapconnected.com, complete the pre-registration information, and upload a copy of each child’s birth certificate and proof of residence, i.e. current utility bill or copy of a lease or mortgage.

 

            “It is important that parents or guardians complete this process as soon as possible to insure all required information is in the system,” said Chambers County School Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge. “There is no registration fee for the pre-k program, which is offered at Eastside Elementary School in LaFayette and Fairfax, Huguley, and Bob Harding-Shawmut elementary schools in Valley.”

 

            “Acceptance to the Chambers County pre-k program is determined strictly through a random drawing that will be conducted on Friday, March 22, at the school district’s Central Office in LaFayette, beginning at 9 a.m. CST,” Hodge added. “Parents or guardians do not have to be present for the drawing, and we will email notices of acceptance beginning April 16.”

 

            At the time of enrollment, each child’s immunization record must be provided. Participation will not be denied on the basis of income, sex, race, color, national origin, or disability.

 

            For more information regarding pre-registration for Alabama’s Voluntary Pre-K Program, visit www.children.alabama.gov and look for Pre-Registration Info under First Class Pre-K.

By David Bell

SCHOOL BOARD SEEKS TO FILL VACANCY
LaFAYETTE – Chris Busby, who has served as the District 2 representative on the Chambers County Board of Education since 2016, formally announced his resignation during a recent regular meeting of the board. Busby was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Clifford Lyons, who passed away while in office.

Though he is still a resident of Chambers County, Busby no longer lives in the district he was appointed to represent. In a prepared statement to the board, Busby said, “It has been my sincere privilege to work with you all for the betterment of our students and community during the course of my tenure. I leave having profound respect for all that each of you do for our schools, and with confidence that the future of this system is in good hands.”

“My commitment to making our school system and community the best it can be remains steadfast,” Busby added. “Though I will no longer be in the board room, I will continue to work to achieve that goal and ask that you all use me as a resource in any way possible moving forward.”

The school board must fill the vacant position within the next 30 days. Interested parties are being asked to submit their interest in writing by noon on January 28, 2019. Interviews will begin January 30, and the board will announce a new appointment on February 6.

In order to be eligible for consideration, applicants must be residents of District 2 who have maintained that residency for at least one year; be of good moral character; possess a high school diploma or its equivalent; is not currently employed by the county board of education; is not currently serving on the governing board of a private elementary or secondary educational institution; is not on the National Sex Offender Registry or the state sex offender registry; and has not been convicted of a felony.

District 2 covers the southwest corner of Chambers County and extends to north of LaFayette. A district map showing specific boundaries is available for public view at the county registrar's office and the Chambers County School District's Administration Building, both in LaFayette.

"Qualified individuals should express why they wish to serve on the board and what type of knowledge and experience they bring to the table," said Chambers County School Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge. "Those letters of interest should be emailed to School Board President Bill Martin at district6@chambersk12.org."

The Chambers County Board of Education is comprised of six members who are elected by district to serve six-year terms each. In the event of a vacancy during a term of office, the board has the authority to solicit applications from qualified residents of the school district for selecting a replacement.

J. P. POWELL MIDDLE SCHOOL AWARDED EDUCATION GRANT

7 days ago


LaFAYETTE – The Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation has chosen John P. Powell Middle School in LaFayette (shown above) as the recipient of its 2018 Toolbox for Education grant. The amount of the cash award totals $5,000.

 

            “We will use these funds to build an outdoor classroom to stimulate interest in math and science by connecting with nature,” said Principal Daron Brooks. “We are grateful to the Lowe’s foundation for allowing us to establish this new educational opportunity.”

 

            In announcing the grant award, Colleen Penhall, Community Relations Director for PTO Today, the organization facilitating the grant, thanked Brooks for submitting his application, saying, “We applaud your dedication to improving your school. We wish you much success and look forward to hearing about your progress.”

 

            The Toolbox for Education grants are reserved for approved school improvement projects that can be completed within one year of grant receipt. To date, the Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation has helped more than 8,000 schools across the country create reading gardens, build playgrounds and implement other improvement projects that help strengthen schools and communities.

 

            “With limited funds available each year to operate all aspects of our school district, I encourage our principals, teachers, and administrators to take advantage of every grant opportunity they possibly can,” said Chambers County School Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge. “Our students continue to benefit from those efforts.”

 

By David Bell

TEACHERS OF THE YEAR RECOGNIZED

about 1 month ago

Shown above, from left, are Secondary Teacher of the Year Toni Shaddix, Chambers County School Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge, and Elementary Teacher of the Year Sherrie Taylor.

           

LaFAYETTE – Nominees for outstanding elementary and secondary “Teacher of the Year” awards were each presented plaques of recognition and achievement during a recent meeting of the Chambers County Board of Education. From that group, two finalists were announced as the overall winners.

 

            Vying for top honors this year at the elementary level were Mary Ann Daves of Eastside, Willonda Caffie of Fairfax, Mary Ann Spence of Five Points, Courtney Peacock of Bob Harding-Shawmut, Sherrie Taylor of Huguley, and Yolandria Rachel of LaFayette Lanier.

 

            Nominees at the secondary level included Jill Romine of J. P. Powell, Kelly Mezick of W. F. Burnes, Jennifer Williams of Career Technical Center, Precious White-Jordan of LaFayette High School, and Toni Shaddix of Valley High School.

 

            “Teachers of the Year are selected by a panel of different people,” said Chambers County School Superintendent Dr. Kelly Hodge. “They look at each nominee’s teaching strategies, their innovation, letters of recommendation written by students, parents, and from colleagues. A lot of different data goes into the selection process.”

 

            Winner of the “Outstanding Elementary Teacher of the Year” award was Huguley nominee Sherrie Taylor, while Toni Shaddix of Valley High School was recipient of the “Outstanding Secondary Teacher of the Year” award.

           

            “All of our teachers do an exceptional job of educating their students,” said Hodge. “We congratulate this year’s winners while expressing our gratitude for their outstanding service.”

 


By David Bell

SECURITY IMPROVEMENTS AT CHAMBERS COUNTY SCHOOLS

6 months ago


Bob Harding-Shawmut Elementary School, shown at left, is one of several Chambers County schools that has been equipped with a new security system to restrict public access to the building. 

           

New security equipment restricting access to school buildings in the Chambers County School District is making facilities safer for students and faculty that occupy them.

 

            “At the conclusion of the previous school year, we began installing magnetic lock systems on the entrance doors of several schools. These systems do not permit a door to be opened until a staff member inside the building activates a release of the lock”, said Chambers County School Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge. “The safety of our students, teachers, and support personnel is a top priority that we take very seriously, and these new systems will help to insure better security.”

 

            Schools thus far that have had the equipment installed, or are in the process if installation,  include Fairfax, Shawmut, Huguley, Lafayette Lanier and Eastside elementary schools, J. P. Powell and W. F. Burns middle schools, and Five Points School.

 

            “The current state education budget contained additional funding which allowed expenditures for school security. We’re now in the process of determining areas of greatest vulnerability, and addressing each of them on a priority basis”, said Hodge.

 

            The main focus for additional improvements will be upgrading video surveillance and possibly alarm systems at J. P. Powell and W. F. Burns middle schools, as well as Valley and LaFayette high schools.

 

            “We’ll utilize the available funding as far as it goes”, Hodge added. “Our goal is to make each campus as safe and secure as possible. As more funding becomes available, we will continue our pursuit of this goal.”

 

            In addition to new security equipment, the Chambers County School District has implemented an aggressive school safety plan that addresses particular situations where safety may be in jeopardy. Frequent drills are conducted to keep students and staff prepared for appropriate measures to be taken during such incidents.


By David Bell

'AMAZING SHAKE' FINALISTS TO SERVE AS SCHOOL DISTRICT AMBASSADORS

8 months ago

Shown above, from left, are 2018 Chambers County 'Amazing Shake' finalists Rylee Yates, Jacob Smith, Journey Dixon, Madison Heard and Da'Mauriel Davis. They were each presented medals at a recent school board meeting , and will serve as special ambassadors during the 2018-2019 school year.

            

LaFAYETTE – The five finalists in this year’s inaugural Chambers County ‘Amazing Shake’ competition have been appointed by school superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge to serve as district ambassadors for the 2018-2019 school year.

 

            The fifth-grade students were selected from an initial group of 30, five from each of the district’s six elementary schools, who participated in three rounds of competition demonstrating various life skills for future success. The exercises included how to give a proper handshake, maintaining eye contact, and presenting themselves in a professional manner, with emphasis on etiquette, discipline, and respect.

 

            At each level, students were scored by a panel of judges according to their performance, culminating from what they had learned throughout the school year. The 2018 Chambers County ‘Amazing Shake’ winner was Journey Dixon from Huguley Elementary School. The remaining four finalists were Madison Heard, Jacob Smith, Da’Mauriel Davis and Rylee Yates.

 

‘The Amazing Shake’ was created by the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, and was introduced to Chambers County students this year. Long-range plans are to expand the program from fifth to eighth grades.

 

            “Selecting an overall winner was a difficult task,” said Hodge. “These students exhibited outstanding poise, confidence, and ability to perform well under pressure, all traits that will help them become successful citizens. Our thanks to Lauren Dabbs and the East Alabama Regional In-Service Committee Ron Clark Implementation Team for their extraordinary leadership.”

 

            “During the coming school year, our five finalists will serve as special ambassadors for our district,” Hodge added. “You will be seeing them at events including Teachers Institute on teachers’ first day back from summer break, Advance-Ed accreditation, comprehensive monitoring, and anytime we have special guests or activities. They will also serve as mentors for future students participating in ‘Amazing Shake’ competitions.”


At a recent meeting of the Chambers County School Board, the finalists were presented medals, and Dr. Hodge gave them a shirt that they will wear while performing official duties as ambassadors. Overall winner Journey Dixon was also awarded a trophy.


By David Bell

TOP GRADUATES HONORED BY CHAMBERS COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD

8 months ago

Shown above, from left, are 2018 top LaFayette High School graduates Ny'Keirria Billingsley, Miciah Vines and D'Angelo Swanson, and top Valley High School graduates Jase Phillips, Callie Pike and Alexis Elise Walls.

           

LaFAYETTE – The top three graduating seniors from LaFayette and Valley high schools were recently presented plaques of achievement by the Chambers County School Board.

 

            The top graduates from LaFayette High School are Ny’Keirria Billingsley, Miciah Vines and D’Angelo Swanson.

 

            Ny’Keirra Billingsley served her senior year as President of her class, the National Technical Honor Society, Student Government Association, and Health Occupations Students of America. She was also an active member of FCCLA, Beta Club, and Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce Junior Ambassadors.

 

            In addition, Ny’Keirra was a cheerleader from 2013 until 2017, and was Miss LHS for the 2017-2018 school year. Her community involvement has included serving as a volunteer at the Rampey Daycare Center and LaFayette Nursing Home.

 

Ny’Keirra plans to attend the University of Alabama in Birmingham where she will major in nursing. She leaves LaFayette High School with a 4.6 (weighted) GPA.

 

            Miciah Vines has been active in the National Technical Honor Society, National Beta Club, National Society of High School Scholars, Family Career Community Leaders of America (Secretary), and Future Teachers of America. She also served as statistician for the LaFayette High School basketball team, was a gate worker at Auburn University football games, a Teacher Education Student at the Chambers County Career Technical Center, and is a member of the White Hall Baptist Church Youth Choir and Praise Team.

 

            Miciah is CPR certified and plans to become a registered nurse. She leaves LaFayette High School with a 4.5 (weighted) GPA.

 

            D’Angelo Swanson has been a member of the National Honor Society, National Beta Club,  and was recipient of  the  LHS  Superstar  Award  for scoring 20 or above on the ACT. He also received a Platinum score on the ACT Work Keys.


In addition, D’Angelo served as Business/PR Manager for Piedmont Motorsports and Engineering at the Chambers County Career Technical Center, and President of UNITE Mentoring, Inc., contributing more than 50 hours of volunteer community service.


            D’Angelo has already earned a Machine Shop Certificate from Southern Union State Community College, and plans to attend Spring Hill University to obtain a degree in Management Marketing. He leaves LaFayette High School with a 4.5 (weighted) GPA.


            The top graduates from Valley High School are Jase Phillips, Callie Pike and Alexis Elise Walls.


            Jase Phillips has been an active member of the National Honor Society, Key Club International, National Beta Club, FCA, VHS Scholar’s Bowl, Math Team, Pep Club, Tennis Team, Student Government Association, and Rambassadors. He was also a member of the Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society, a Class Favorite his Junior year, a Senior Superlative (Most Positive), and a finalist for Mr. VHS. Furthermore, Jase was on the ‘All A’ Honor Roll every year of his high school education.


            In terms of community involvement, Jase served as a Junior Ambassador with the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce and volunteered with Huguley Elementary School Fall Festival and May Day activities, Hawkes Library Summer Children’s Program, Kidfest and Children’s Ministry at Spring Road Christian Church, Out of Darkness suicide awareness walk, Mill Village Christmas, and Casas Por Cristo Missions house-building team in Acuna, Mexico.


            Jase plans to attend Auburn University and obtain a degree in Pharmacy. He leaves Valley High School with a 4.7 (weighted) GPA.


            Callie Pike has been a member of the National Honor Society, Math Honor Society, and served as President of the VHS Key Club. She was also active in the National Beta Club, Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce (Jr. Ambassadors), VHS Rambassadors and Pep Club, and was Miss VHS for the 2017-2018 school year.


            While in high school, Callie obtained work experience through CharterBank, Performance Power Equipment, and the Chicken Stop. She plans to attend Auburn University and major in Veterinary Medicine.


            Callie leaves Valley High School with a 4.7 (weighted) GPA.


            Alexis Elise Walls spent her senior year as a member of the Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society, and was also active in the Key Club and marching band. In addition, Alexis was an Academic Achievement Award winner and member of the ‘All A’ Honor Roll and Beta Club.


Among her volunteer experiences, Alexis has served as a missionary to Haiti, where she taught basic computer skills, an English class, Bible class, and assisted with a sports camp. She also worked with other volunteers in the Valley area building wheelchair ramps.


            Alexis plans to attend Southern Union State Community College and obtain her Associates degree before transferring to Auburn University and majoring in Early Childhood Education. She leaves Valley High School with a 4.6 (weighted) GPA.


            “We want to congratulate all our graduating seniors and wish them well as they continue their education and embark upon their careers,” said Chambers County School Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge.


by David Bell