Marengo Board of Education discusses new agenda

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 20, 2006

Jamie Alich / Demopolis Times Writer

The Marengo County Board of Education discussed its new agenda Thursday afternoon. New business included: approval of the financial reports for the month of June; bank statement reconciliations for June; bids for CNP software, milk and bread; bids for LP gas and gasoline/diesel; lease/agreement of buses, ARMS for Liability/Errors and omissions for 2006-2007; 2005-2006 employee contract revision and Delta Infrastructure Grant.

“We’ll be opening bids next week on some of the projects,” said Luke Hallmark, Superintendent of Marengo County Schools. “Some of those will be the gym floors at John Essex and A.L. Johnson, and the bleachers at A.L. Johnson. We are having plans drawn, I would’ve thought they’d be ready by today, about what the look of the football facility at Marengo will look like. We’ve already had the roofers come to look at the roofing project in Sweet Water, and also the bathroom project at Sweet Water and John Essex. We are heading in the right direction.”

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Construction projects are going to take time because of grant writing and policy. Some of the projects may have to be bid out due to the fact that cost of some of the projects may exceed a certain amount of money.

“The principals are excited about the projects, and hopefully the kids will be even more excited,” Hallmark said.

The only drawback to some of the projects is that school may be started back by then. However, the school board is going to ask construction teams to possibly work on some Saturdays and Sundays to cause less commotion during school hours.

Alatax money has gone down slightly by about $5,000; however, the school board is still up around 14 percent for the year.

School report cards showed that throughout that state 13 percent of students drop out of school.

Marengo County Schools showed a dropout rate of only 4.86 percent.

“This shows that our kids are staying in school compared to the state average,” Hallmark said. “I’m real pleased with the 4.86 percent.”

SAT10 scores report that overall they look better than average and better than last year.

Free or reduced lunch percentage has continued to increase during the 2004-2005 school year. As compared to the state average of 51.6 percent, Marengo schools are up at 86 percent.

“We are gradually increasing with our free or reduced lunch students. That number is very typical for this area so it’s not out of line. We feel like it may be closer to 90 percent this year,” said Hallmark.

Technology is at the state level.

The county schools now have computers in the classes, internet access and computer labs.

The only problem within the school system is the meals equivalent.

However, that is not something that the board has done.

The school board is getting a lot out of the money it is getting for things like construction and improvement.

“We would like to have 100 percent benchmark with our students. One of our schools had all of its kindergarten students make 100 percent on its benchmark, and that school was John Essex. We would like to have all of our grades in every school at the same level,” Hallmark said.

A bus drivers’ meeting is scheduled for August 8th. A new regulation this school year is that bus drivers will be trained in CPR before they pick their buses up for the 2006-2007 year. In addition to that, every bus on the road this year will run off diesel.

“I received a letter from the state department of education really bragging on our transportation department. They said that our school system has earned a passing grade for achieving less than 10 percent major deficiencies for the school bus inspection, and that ours’ is an outstanding school bus system,” Hallmark said.

Sweet Water High School will get a board approved Delta Infrastructure Grant to clean up the waste-water on school grounds, commonly referred to as the “lagoon.”

“The Department of Environmental Management has told us we need to correct the problem. We have gotten the grant, but we have to have authority to be able to write off on it because it is a federal grant,” said Hallmark.

New computer software will be coming out to help high school students score higher on ACT tests for college entry.

Childrens First Evaluation money is used for the alternative school.

“I’ve got to turn in the reports for Childrens First, and I suspect that we will receive around $24,000 or $25,000 for the alternative school. Distance Learning will be moved up to two classes this year. Spanish one and two will be taught from Sweet Water to all of our other schools,” Hallmark said.

A new cell phone policy will be in place this school year. The policy says that cell phones must be kept out of sight and must be turned off during school hours.

In Marengo County, as well as statewide, athletic programs are also having to deal with changes. Unsportsmanlike-like behavior of coaches and/or players this year will be treated more seriously than in previous years. This year, if a player or a coach has to be ejected from a game, the school will be fined $300.

For second offenses, the player or coach will suspended and the school will be fined $500.

The 2006-2007 school year is set to begin on August 9th, and the next board meeting is scheduled for August 17th at 4p.m.