School board honors Highlands team; evaluates school test scores

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Diane Peltz ­– Contributing Writer

Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin handed out certificates of achievement, at the School Board Meeting on Tuesday Sept. 18, to all members and the coaches of the Highlands Girls Volleyball Team.  The team was awarded the 2017-2018 AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) Team Academic Award.  Students were recognized for achieving a Top-25 Team GPA (3.3 or higher) among Girls High School Volleyball teams.  This award is given to teams who match their dedication to the sport of volleyball with excellence in the classroom. Students on the team include: Madison Lloyd, Brooke Rehmeier, Analyse Crook, Madison Dalton, Abby Olvera, Hannah Holt, Tristan Castro, Kedra McCall, Jeslyn Head and Jordan Carrier. Kay Postell is the head coach and Eileen Carrier is the assistant coach.

Macon County Schools Test Scores

School test results for the 2017-2018 school year showed remarkable growth for Macon Middle School which exceeded the State Growth Status by 9.72%. MMS is in the top 20 in the state in terms of growth.  Highlands also exceeded growth for the fourth time in the past five years. EOC (end of course) scores ranked 47th (up from 61st last year.)  The only Macon County school earning a grade “A” was Macon Early College. Other Macon County schools receiving a grade of “B” include South Macon Elementary, MMS, Highlands School, and Franklin High School. Iotla Valley, Cartoogechaye Elementary, East Franklin, Mountain View Intermediate and Nantahala School received a “C” and East Franklin Elementary which received a “D.” A grade “A” or a “B” indicates that school exceeded expected growth; a “C” denotes that the school met standards of growth and a grade “D” indicates an underperforming school.

 As defined by state statute, low-performing schools are those that receive a School Performance Grade of D or F and a school accountability growth score of met expected growth or did not meet expected growth. To avoid a low-performing designation, schools must earn a School Performance Grade of C or better or exceed growth.

Schools identified as low performing must develop a plan for improvement that specifically addresses the strategies the school will implement to improve both its School Performance Grade and School Growth designation. A school improvement plan was put into effect for East Franklin Elementary School since they received a school score of “D” and therefore, did not meet state standards. This plan will allow them to get on track for the coming school year in order to improve student proficiency in reading and math EOG’s (end of grade) for 3-4 grades.  East Franklin Principal Landon Holland believes that his teachers are up for the challenge.

Summer School classes will once again be offered for students not meeting the EOG/EOC grades. They will then be given the opportunity to take the test over again during these summer classes. 

Several board policies were approved from last month’s agenda including the prohibition against discrimination, harassment and bullying policy and procedures along with the participation by minority businesses policy.

A discussion regarding OPBE (other post employment benefits) for school personnel was led by Michael Wike, of Anderson, Smith and Wike PLLC regarding the balance sheet for funding benefits for teachers upon retirement. Teachers in North Carolina now retire with a health care package along with their pension.  Since the insurance is funded at 3% a liability of 97% must be picked up by the state at a cost of approximately $62 million. 

“This is not a sustainable benefit” Wike said. Due to the negative balance there may be no health care package for new teachers beginning in 2021 and support personnel may not be eligible for any coverage in the future. 

Academic Foundation

The Academic Foundation Annual Report was delivered by Brian Aulisio, President of the foundation. He reported that net proceeds from 2017-2018 Cartoogechaye School Auction were $8594. The Christmas Polar Express Movie fundraiser brought in $1287 for a total of $9881 for the 2017-18 school year. The grant money was awarded to South Macon Elementary, Cartoogechaye Elementary, Iotla Valley, Union Academy, Macon Middle School, Highlands School, Nantahala, and FHS. 

Projects that received grant money includes:

• Bird feeders at Cartoogechaye – to supplement the K-4 science curriculum by bringing a variety of birds for viewing

• STEM bins at South Macon – for independent project study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

• Literature Book Sets for Iotla Valley for “Rooted in Reading” yearlong reading curriculum program

• Countywide student art exhibit

• Self-contained Adult Life preparation at Franklin High that incorporates real world math skills, proper manners and social skills.

• Hands-on Insect Study Materials for South Macon second grade to study animal, insect and plant life cycles

Approved overnight/out of state trips 

MMS Tennis to Georgia

Nantahala School to Blue Ridge, Ga., 

FHS (Franklin High School) Cheerleading to Gainesville, Ga.

Nantahala School to Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

FHS Women’s Gold to Lenoir

FHS Women’s Golf to Southern PinesFHS FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) to Charlotte

MVI to Young Harris, Ga.

MVI to Lawrenceville, Ga.

FHS Basketball to various games and scrimmages

FHS Carpentry to Raleigh

FHS Agriculture to Raleigh

FHS Band to New Orleans, La.

Approved fundraisers 

East Franklin PTO

FHS FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) 

Highlands School

Iotla Valley Elementary

Macon Middle School Cross Country

MMS FCA

Union Academy

A discussion of the lighting situation at FHS revealed that installing LED lighting would be too costly if existing underground service cannot be used.  Dr. Baldwin was concerned that another blackout might take place if they did not install the lights. Musco Sports Lighting was looking into the situation to find out whether switching over to LED would be feasible for FHS and Macon County Schools.

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