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Length of school day extended for HCMS students
SoVaNow.com / July 17, 2014The school day for students at Halifax County Middle School will be ten minutes longer than the school days for students at all the county elementary schools and for those at Halifax County High School.
On Monday evening school board members approved a recommendation from Director of Secondary Education Frosty Owens to have the instructional day begin at the Middle School at 8:20 a.m., five minutes earlier than the 8:25 opening there this year. The school day will end at 3:10 p.m., five minutes later than it ended this past year at 3:05.
The extended time will guarantee a 360 minute instructional day for Middle School students as required by state law. Owens explained that the day at the Middle School is divided into seven periods and students lose approximately one-half hour (overall) in changing classes. “We had to do something,” Owens explained. “We could try to hurry them along during class changes or cut into their lunch period, but this seemed the best thing to do.”
Owens also sought and got the approval of school trustees to charge sixth grade students enrolled in physical education classes a $2 fee to help cover the expense of using the equipment. Seventh and eighth grade students already pay a $4.50 fee each semester for the equipment usage.
Trustees also heard a report from Nancy Zirkle, testing coordinator, about the results of the recently completed summer school session. Zirkle reported that this year’s attendance of 370 students was the highest of that of several years. There were 79 students at Cluster Springs; 75 at Sydnor Jennings along with Meadville; 46 at Clays Mill which also included Scottsburg, and 169 at South Boston combined with Sinai. Statistics showed that 83 percent of those in the third grade showed improvement in reading, while 96 percent of the fourth graders improved and 97 percent of the fifth graders increased their reading scores. In math 78 percent of the third graders improved, 91 percent of the fourth and 93 percent of the fifth grade students showed increased proficiencies. Parent surveys quoted one as saying “My child came home each day with nothing but positive feedback about his school day,” while another parent said her child “begged to go on Friday!” (Summer school was only for three weeks, Mondays through Thursdays.)
Director of Special Education Jeff Davis reviewed the Area 16 Special Olympics efforts over the past school year. Davis explained that students from four counties — Halifax, Mecklenburg, Charlotte and Lunenburg — all participated in competitions in swimming, soccer/bocce, basketball, bowling and track and field events. The Special Olympics is a year-round program of athletic training and competition for individuals with an intellectual disability.
Trustees also heard about the therapeutic day treatments that are offered through members of the Family Preservation Services from regional directors Glenn O. Fowlkes and Wesley R. Inge. The two men stressed that the services are offered in both individual and group counseling sessions and help to keep students on task and decreasing disruption in the classroom.
Also addressing school trustees was Christina Sims, daughter of Emma Sims, whose contract as a food service employee was not renewed last year. Sims presented information from her mother, seeking re-instatement of her position. Sims sent copies of her previous evaluations, which were mostly positive and the latest one, which she said was completed after she had reported seeing rat droppings on bread served in the cafeteria, blaming the non-renewal of her contract on that evaluation.
During a later closed session Emma Sims’ name was one of several listed as a substitute food services employee.
Following two closed sessions, one before the 7:30 public meeting and another following, trustees appointed First Sergeant Jeffrey J. Pannell as JROTC instructor at an annual salary of $57,010 and Carlton Ray Reaves as a special ed teacher at the Middle School with a salary of $40,982. Mary Helen Stafford was also appointed as a science teacher at the Middle School with a $39,162 annual salary.
Five resignations were approved: April Rathel as a seventh grade English teacher at HCMS; Mike Roark, a physical ed teacher at the high school; Carolyn R. Egan, art teacher at the high school, Denise Culley second grade teacher at South Boston Elementary and Frankie Long, HCHS guidance counselor.
Also approved were transfers for three teachers: Cheryl Ferguson will move from art teacher at HCMS to art teacher at HCHS; Michael Wilkerson will move from Algebra I &II teacher at HCMS to Algebra II teacher at HCHS; and Tameka Ferrell will move from SPED teacher at Meadville to SPED teacher at HCMS.
The board also approved fall supplements for coaches and special events leaders, as well as a list of substitutes for bus drivers, food service employees and secretaries.
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