Board acts on high school credit, fundraiser policies
The Woodford County Board of Education Monday unanimously approved first reading of an update to its policies and procedures, including changes related to when students can earn high school credits and how many parent-organization fundraisers are allowed annually. Under the updated policies and procedures being considered, eighth-graders will no longer earn high school credits in middle school beginning next school year. Students who have already earned high school credits while at Woodford County Middle School will not lose those credit hours. Going forward, the transcripts of eighth-graders will show they completed high school courses at WCMS, but those students will not earn high school credits for doing so. Also under the revised policies and procedures, booster clubs and other approved parent organizations may have up to five fundraisers annually instead of two, which will remain the limit for school organizations. Schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins said limiting an approved parent organization to two fundraisers becomes problematic if one of its annual fundraisers does not generate the dollars that were anticipated. "We thought this would give them a little bit more flexibility, a little bit more of an option to continue to raise dollars for our kids," said Hawkins. He said the fundraiser issue can be revisited at a later date if changes are deemed necessary. Board member Karen Brock said she worried that increasing the number of parent organization fundraisers to five may put additional pressure on students and their families to do more. Board member Sherri Springate predicted the number of fundraisers will self-correct because of how much a parent organization can do, but acknowledged concerns related to how many times a parent gets approached about buying a candy bar or other item to support a school fundraiser. Another policy change will allow students to participate in out-of-county fundraisers. Students are currently not allowed to participate in fundraisers outside of Woodford County, which Hawkins described as "a little problematic" when a team, for example, wants to set up a concession stand at a UK football game to raise money. The school board will have second reading of its updated policies and procedures during next month's regular meeting. Wheelchair swing The board approved a project application form to purchase a wheelchair swing for Southside Elementary. The wheelchair swing (and site work) will allow students with physical disabilities to play on the playground with other students. The wheelchair swing will cost $14,055. Instructional update In this month's instructional update, Chief Academic Officer Jimmy Brehm talked to school board members about when and how students in the district are identified as gifted and/or talented. Students who are gifted have an ability to think and perform at a deeper level than peers in the general population, he said. Students in Woodford County schools are identified as gifted in five areas: general intellectuals, specific academic subject area, creative or divergent thinking, leadership, and visual or performing arts. This identification begins in fourth grade, but can happen through 12th grade, Brehm said. He said the individual needs of gifted students are met in a variety of ways. Service plan options include the GATE program at Simmons Elementary School for gifted fourth- and fifth-graders, grouping within regular classrooms and an accelerated track. From July 26 to Aug. 5, the Best Practice Academy will allow educators in the district to participate in different training sessions that best meet their individual needs, said Brehm. The training sessions will provide opportunities for teachers to learn in areas where they want to grow or have a deep interest. "A lot of times in this profession," said Brehm, "we don't get enough (opportunities) to learn about the things that we really just like to learn about." The upcoming Best Practice Academy will provide an array of quality learning options, he added. Woodford County schools offered a hybrid Professional Learning Communties (PLCs) event on June 7 and 8 to give its educators insight into what it takes to build effective PLCs in schools in order to advance student achievement, Brehm said. "It was outstanding," he added. Brehm said dozens of teachers thanked him for the district's willingness to bring them together so they had a better understanding of how an effective professional learning community can help all students be successful in the classroom. "This is the driver of the work - teachers getting together," Brehm said.