I am honored to be invited to serve as a monthly guest columnist with the Sylva Herald. My column will focus on educational topics and updates from Jackson County Public Schools.
I am a lifelong educator with a definite bias toward traditional public education. I believe in a free, public education for all who wish to partake. In my role as superintendent of Jackson County Public Schools, I feel it is my moral obligation to highlight the great happenings in our schools.
It is also my responsibility to share challenges and to collaborate with others for solutions to these challenges. With all this said, my monthly report to the public will mirror my superintendent’s report to the Jackson County Public Schools Board of Education.
In the area of capital projects, Jake Buchanan and Jason Watson are a great team and continue to move us forward to complete school projects on time and within budget.
We opened bids last Thursday for the new water system at Smokey Mountain Elementary School. New water system designs are moving through the approval process for Blue Ridge Schools, as well.
Our safety initiative includes egress courtyards for our school sites that have buildings under more than one roof. The egress courtyards are in the review process with the N.C. Department of Insurance and N.C. Department of Public Instruction. All local authorities have approved the plans.
The accessibility upgrades at the Smoky Mountain High School baseball field are underway with the upper section completed and the lower section plan being reviewed by N.C. Department of Insurance and N.C. Department of Public Instruction. All local authorities have approved the accessibility upgrades.
The HVAC projects at Blue Ridge and Fairview School will have a bid opening today (Thursday).
In other safety and health news, we are extremely grateful for our partnership with Blue Ridge Health. They provide our School Based Health Centers at Fairview and Smoky Mountain High. Currently the centers are open two to three days a week, and have served 32 patients at Fairview School and 78 patients at Smoky Mountain High. The dates of service include April 4-June 8 and Aug. 14-Sept. 20. In the coming years, the hope is to expand the School Based Health Centers to each school in the district.
The accountability data below is what feeds the state report card.
We have some success stories in the area of testing and accountability for each of our schools:
Blue Ridge Early College
• Increased graduation rate above 95 percent.
• 3-8 math school performance grade increased from 41 (D) to 60 (C).
• 3-8 reading school performance grade increased from 58 to 67.
• Met growth for 3-8 math.
Blue Ridge School
• Met growth for 3-8 English and language arts.
• Maintained 3-8 reading.
• School performance grade of C.
• Met three of four long-term goals for reading.
Cullowhee Valley School
• Exceeded growth for 3-8 reading.
• Increased overall achievement on end of grades tests from 58.9 to 59.8.
• Met growth for total school and 3-8 math.
Fairview Elementary School
• Increased total school performance grade from 58 to 67.
• Exceeded growth for total school and 3-8 math.
• Increased overall achievement from 57.9 to 63.4.
Jackson County Early College
• Maintained school performance grade of A; only 8 percent schools statewide had a school performance grade of A.
• Met growth for total school.
• Maintained cohort graduation rate above 95 percent.
• 88 percent of students scored an ACT composite score of 17 or above.
Jackson County School of Alternatives
• Earned a Progressing rating on the Alternative Accountability Model (highest ranking).
• Met growth for total school.
• Increased cohort graduation rate to 79.5 percent.
• Total achievement score increased by 9.8 percentage points.
Scotts Creek Elementary School
• Met growth for total school and 3-8 reading and math.
• Maintained 3-8 reading school performance grade of C.
• Maintained school performance grade of C.
Smokey Mountain Elementary
• Increased total school performance grade by 3 points.
• Increased overall achievement by 4.4 percentage points.
• Increased 3-8 math EOG achievement rate by 4.2 percentage points.
Smoky Mountain High School
• Exceeded growth for total school.
• Ranked 10th out of all N.C. traditional 9-12 high schools in terms of total school growth index.
• Ranked top 15 percent of all N.C. traditional 9-12 high schools in terms of overall school performance grade.
• Maintained school performance grade of B.
Until next month, continue to “Engage in Education!”