Houlka addresses reading requirements

Houlka Wildcat1HOULKA – Student handbooks at Chickasaw County Schools will reflect the new state law requiring all Mississippi third graders to read at the third grade level next May or not be promoted.

Chickasaw County School Superintendent, Dr. Betsy Collums, told trustees last week the new law would not have had a major affect on Chickasaw schools this past year, but the new policy does need to be spread on the minutes and reflected in the 2013-14 handbook.

Unless you have a good-cause exemption, they have an IEP (Individual Education Plan) or a couple other exemptions and they don’t read on grade, you can’t promote them,” said Collums. “They can pass everything else, but they must read at a third-grade level, too.”

Collums said the law is part of the state’s new push for literacy and accountability at the elementary school level and was a topic of discussion for superintendents at the state education conference earlier this month.

Based on last year’s scores, all but one of our students would have been successfully promoted under these new regulations,” said Collums. “I think this is something the state is going to watch carefully and we need to watch it, too.”

Collums said teachers are aware of the change and the addition to the handbook will make sure parents and teachers know about this new requirement.

The board also was informed of the new 63-percent daily attendance requirement. The new law says students must attend 63-percent of a school day to be counted present.

Under the old policy a student could come in to school and later in the day be checked out to go to the doctor or somewhere and we were able to count them present,” said Collums. “Now we have to see how long they were at school before we can count them.”

Collums said this is one of the regulations that will not be required of charter schools.

They base funding on average daily attendance and, yes, students do need to be in school,” said Collums. “We’ve always felt the state should take a snapshot or count our classes early in the year and use that number.

If we have 40 second graders and have to hire two teachers for two classes that is what it costs us,” said Collums. “Spending time trying to determine if students are here or not gets away from what teaching is all about.”

In other business:

Trustees walked through the Houlka Gym that is being renovated and approved an $800 change order for new doors and hardware at the gym.

The board approved the resignation of Valerie Crawford and rescinded her 2014 teaching contract.

The board voted to hire Autumn Samuel as the new high school secretary and Michael S. Jaggers as an English teacher.

Trustees approve minutes of the previous minutes and the docket of claims.

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