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R-2 schools receive near-perfect performance review

by Jay Forness ~ Assistant Editor

The Jackson R-2 School District received a 99.6 percent score on its annual performance report from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The School Board approved the report during its February meeting at the Ignite Center in Jackson High School’s J-Wing.

The APR score is an improvement over past years, with the District receiving a 96.8 percent score in 2017 and a 98.2 percent score in 2016. Dr. Matt Lacy, associate superintendent of secondary and personnel, said the near-perfect score is due to a lot of hard work across the District.

“We are going to celebrate this really high score, but we have some work to do to make sure we stay within the range we’ve had for the past few years,” Lacy said.

The District received perfect scores for academic achievement, college and career readiness, attendance and graduation rate. Lacy said the District received “growth and progress points” for improving test scores from last year. He added that it will be a goal to continue that growth next year to maintain an excellent APR.

The District’s only non-perfect evaluation was for academic performance of special service and low-income students, where the District received 13.5 points out of 14 available points. Lacy said the half-point the District lost was due to the MAP test scores special education students received in social studies.

In other action:

• The School Board approved a revised school calendar, now that the state doesn’t require students to attend 174 days. The new guideline now only requires schools to have 1,044 hours of student attendance, with Jackson students currently attending 1,153 hours.

Districts are also required to schedule a minimum of 36 hours (six days) of makeup snow days, and are advised to schedule an additional 24 hours (four days) for make-up.

The new schedule has students attending 1,120 school hours or roughly 172 days. Students will not have to make up the first three snow days, with snow days after that being made up at the end of the year. Superintendent John Link said the District usually has one to three snow days.

Teachers will have nine scheduled professional development days, one flexible professional development day and four work days. They will also make up the third snow day, if it occurs. Overall, teachers will have 186 contract days.

School is scheduled to begin on Aug. 15 and end on May 19. Election day and the day after Presidents’ Day will now be PD days, making a five-day break for students in February. Link said, unless there are further state changes, the newly approved calendar will be able to be used year to year.

• The School Board approved a safety evaluation, which came during its first meeting since the high school received a false bomb threat. The evaluation covered safety goals including having dedicated safety teams at each school by March, providing ALICE training for teachers beginning this spring and increasing the number of communication devices across the District.

Recent improvements in safety has included installing access controls at all schools,  installing safety glass in all new construction, hiring three door monitors at the high school, rerouting traffic flow at various schools and maintaining 450 security cameras. The District is in charge of keeping more than 5,000 students and 900 staff members safe every day in more than 20 acres of buildings.

The District now has five school resource officers, with the newest member having started in the past month. The SROs are now the largest squad in the Jackson Police Department.

• Preston Smith from Business Information Services gave a presentation on a demographic study of the school distict his company did. The board approved the demographic study in October to help the district plan for phase two of their facilities master plan. Smith projected continued growth for the district, with enrollment growing between six percent and 14 percent overall.

The study states that enrollment is increasing due to migration into the district and an increase in previously home-schoolers and private-school students who are now enrolling in public school. In 2010, around 82 percent of school-age children in Jackson’s school district were attending public schools. In 2018, that number has risen to 92 percent.

Smith said the increases are not mostly due to new housing being built in the district, saying the majority of the building is for seniors without school-age children. He added that a better indicator for enrollement growth is sales of existing homes in the district.

Link said the demographic study provided valuable information that can now be used with the district’s long-range plan to monitor what facility improvements are needed and when they can look at bonds without a tax rate increase.

He added that the study showed that they have plenty of room for more students in the middle school and junior high’s classrooms, but gathering areas like the cafeteria are going to a concern in the future. The study also shows that the majority of new housing development in the school district will affect South Elementary and Gordonville.

• The soccer program received two awards for its newly renovated turf field. Jackson received the Field of the Year award from the Missouri High School Soccer Coaches Association and an additional award from ATG Sports for having the best all-type turf field in Missouri. ATG Sports installed the new soccer and football fields last summer.

Athletic Director John Martin thanked the board in being supportive of the renovations, saying “we’ve got nothing but complements for both of our fields.”

• Seven Jackson High School choir members were recognized by the board for being named to the Missouri All-State Choir. Choir director Christy Shinn said there are only 20 spots in the choir for students in the southeast district, so having seven students from the same school is a huge achievement.

The students preformed on Jan. 26 at the annual Missouri Music Educators Conference at Tan-Tar-A Resort in the Lake of the Ozarks. “They performed for thousands of parents and educators,” Shinn said. “They had people weaping and crying and cheering.”

For more about the students, see the Cash-Book Journal’s Feb. 13 issue.

• The Junior High Leadership Team presented their 2019 Sustaining Exemplary Professional Learning Communities award to the board. The junior high has been using the professional learning community approach, where a group of educators meet regularly to share expertise and collaborate to find ways to improve academic success, for eight years.

The team has used the approach to combat questions like what do they want the students to know, how to measure that, what to do if the students don’t learn the subject and what to do when students do.

The team first received recognition for the PLC three years ago, with this award showing that they have maintained the high level of work.

• Students at North Elementary School spoke on what they have done in the various leadership clubs they have been a part of. The leadership clubs started as a way for all students to be a part of a club, even if they weren’t able to come to North Elementary before or after school.

Each club runs every other Friday during the school day, with students being able to pick which club they want to be in. The clubs vary in subject matter, with clubs focusing on public speaking, gaming, service learning and art.

• The Junior High Foreign Language Club presented their Valentine’s Day in Paris event, that they held on Feb. 14. During the event, the club put together a tasting café, where students will order in French, that features Brie, baguettes and various desserts. Students also painted in the style of Vincent Van Gogh and took a tour of paris using virtual reality headsets.

Foreign language teacher Kim Pruitt advises the club and said she wanted them to “feel like they’ve been to Paris and pick up a little French.”

• The Jackson R-2 Foundation raised $63,000 during its annual Red and Black Affair fundraiser. The Power Pack program also received a $15,000 donation from the Jackson Ministerial Alliance.
 
 

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