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Board members see common strengths, problems

In attempts to learn more about improving area schools, Demopolis Board of Education members Laura Foster and Bobby Armstead attended the Alabama Association of School Boards’ 2005 Convention in Birmingham.

“I try to attend the conferences each opportunity I get,” Laura Foster said. “I just started my second term and I try to get as much information as I can.”

Also enjoying the opportunity to network, Foster had the opportunity to gather with more than 400 K-12 board members from across the state.

The convention’s theme was “Strong Schools Building Strong Students” and it focused on bridging the achievement gap, topics that impact student performance and improving participants’ leadership skills.

“There were a lot of workshops but I chose those that were of special interest to me,” Foster said. “I learned that it wasn’t just Demopolis dealing with problems from the No Child Left Behind Act.”

Foster said board members realize students learn at different levels, but the Act’s tests and rules are “one size fits all” and the program does not have the funds necessary to operate.

“The special needs children benefit more than the average children because of the help they receive with the Act,” she said.

The conference was held Dec. 8-10 and attendees were addressed by career educator and counselor Dr. Rita Pierson who spoke about the education challenges poverty creates and expert high-risk youth counselor Dr. Adolph Brown, who gave a motivational speech.

Attorney and schools’ advocate Jamie Vollmer also spoke to the participants.

Upon her return to Demopolis, Foster said she brought materials for other board members to look over.

“They said they would look into some of the materials, but we have not discussed it yet,” she said.

But, Foster has faith in the board and said she is looking forward to it turning a new leaf upon the start of the New Year.

“We need to get to the important things like No Child Left Behind,” she said. “And we didn’t meet our AYP [Adequate Yearly Progess] so we need improvement in grades and the environment in which we operate. We need to be working on that.”

Board member Bobby Armstead was not available for comment.