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DCS proposes changes to grading structure; public hearing planned

Multiple changes were proposed to the Student Promotion and Retention Policy during the Demopolis City Schools Board of Education meeting on July 18 at the central office.
Proposed changes to the Student Promotion and Retention Policy include:
• Changing the the numerical passing grade to “60” or above from “70” or above in reading and math to be promoted in first and second grade;
• Limiting to one retention per student in kindergarten through second grade span;
• Limiting to one retention per student in third through fifth grade span;
• If a student is 14 years old in the sixth grade, that student can’t be retained in the sixth grade;
• If a student is 15 years old in the seventh grade, that student can’t be retained in the seventh grade; and
• If a student is 16 years old in the eighth grade, that student can’t be retained in the eighth grade.
Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff said that had the new policy been in place, retentions at Westside Elementary School would have gone from 36 to less than 25.
Also, Kallhoff noted that the limits on retention should reduce the potential number of dropouts from the school system.
The board will host a public hearing July 26 for input before and official vote will be made at the next regular meeting.
The superintendent also recommended to the board that all paraprofessionals be paid on the same salary scale as opposed to the three different scales currently.
The scales range from $17,649 to over $21,000 for aides such as special education teacher aides, Physical Education Aides range from $18,000 to $22,000 and computer aides range from $21,000 to $24,545.
Kallhoff said that since the type of work performed and qualifications are similar, that all paraprofessionals be paid on the same scale which would be, at the highest, in the $21,104 to $24,445 range. The superintendent was sure to be clear that different types of aides have different responsibilities.
The increase in pay would cost the system $42,375 and would affect nearly 20 workers in the system.
However, the motion was tabled until the next meeting following discussion by the members of the board.
The personnel report included the following:
• Leslie Gibbs resigned as an English Teacher at Demopolis High School to accept a position as an instructional coach with the Choctaw County Schools System. Brian Allen was hired to replace Gibbs at DHS.
• Other hires include Byron Franklin, former NFL Wide-Receiver, as School Alternative Program Director at Demopolis Middle School, Sam Masters as a lunchroom worker at DMS and Jonathan Casey Moore as Special Education Teacher at DMS after LeeAnn Stroud declined the offer under conditional employment.
• Connie Davis was also granted a $5000 supplement to coordinate technical education for the 2016-2017 school year.
The board authorized their attorney to petition the Marengo County Probate and Judge to include the Three Mill City-Wide Tax renewal on the November 2016 ballot. Last year’s bill was valued at $77,308 and money raised covered maintenance concerns, portions of salaries and helped purchase equipment, such as the new special needs school bus, among other items.
Other action items voted on included accepting an ice cream bid from Mayfield Dairy and a milk bid from Borden for the 2016-2017 school year.
Consent items approved include the following:
• Out-of-state and overnight field trips for the DMS Beta Club to Birmingham on Feb. 22-24, 2017 and New York City on Jan. 25-28, 2017
• Demopolis Rotary Club dues for the superintendent at $150
• Demopolis City Business Council dues for the superintendent at $75.
During his report, Kallhoff mentioned that he would be meeting with stakeholders to update the strategic plan on July 28 at the central office and everyone is invited to attend.
The superintendent also announced that new hire orientation will take place on August 8 and the New Teachers’ Institute will be on August 15.
Results from the Advanced Placement Exams showed positive results according to Kallhoff. Out of the 469 students tested, which was five less than 2015, the results showed that 11 more students scored in the 3-5 range which was a 2 percent increase in qualifying scores. Level 2 scores were up by 3 percent.
The board will have a called meeting July 25 at 10 p.m.