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Online gradebook, new technology center highlight meeting

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By SARAH BEACH

The News-Democrat

The Carroll County Board of Education announced several important staffing, leadership and facility changes over the summer in preparation for the coming school year at the Thursday, June 20, meeting.

In her monthly report, Superintendent Lisa James said that summer is a time for the school system to be “revived.”

The district’s online grade book, Infinite Campus, is being integrated with Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System, a statewide technology program.

AssistantSuperintendent Bill Hogan said the new program will allow teachers to create tests online and record grades automatically into Infinite Campus. It also will help with professional development for staff members.

The software is already being used for testing in the elementary schools. This year will see the pilot test of the professional growth and evaluation measure of teacher effectiveness.

The program is “probably one of the bigger shifts in education in a long time,” Hogan said.

Though the state minimum is one school per district for the pilot test, all the schools in the Carroll County district will be trained to allow the teachers to practice, he said.

Several other teacher development programs are also under way, including “The Leader in Me” and “Data Team Process,” James said. Training eventually will be provided to all staff. Some teachers and staff have already received this training – “The Leader in Me” to the lower grades and “Data Team Process” to secondary level teachers.

There are a few vacant positions at the middle school, including an instructional coach. The high school is in need of a science teacher, a special education teacher, and a health and physical education teacher. Formal hiring decisions across the district will be made around mid-July.

Project Lead the Way, a science and technology program designed to prepare students for the work force, also has acquired new staff members.

High school students may choose one of two tracks. Molly Wright will teach classes in the Engineering and Design track, including Engineering Design and Principles of Engineering. The Biomedical Engineering track will be taught by anatomy teacher Duke Boles. Michelle Hawkins is the new Project Lead the Way coordinator at the middle school and will teach an Introductory Technology class. 

Technology updated

The district’s technology center has a new building, new name and new motto.

The technology office is now in the building formerly used for In School Suspension. The old building is still in transition, but may be used for bus driver training on occasion, according to Technology Coordinator Cindy Johann in a telephone interview Monday.

The building, now called the “Center of Technology and Innovation,” also has a new motto: “Empowering Today’s Learners to Envision Tomorrow’s Possibilities,” Johann said at meeting.

Carroll County is one of 40 districts chosen by the state to receive a bandwidth update. Each school is being updated with virtual servers that will provide the schools with enough web service to be equivalent to one server per grade level, and will make the system many times faster, Johann said.

This is a cheaper solution, which Johann has tried at the middle school and at Kathryn Winn Primary, but will now be available district wide.

Computer labs at the middle school and high school are also in the process of being updated, said Johann.

 

Maiden resigns board due to retirement restrictions

In a letter to the board, read during the meeting by Chairperson Mona Kindoll, board member Dru Maiden announced her need to resign from the school board.

Maiden is retiring from her position working for District Judge Elizabeth Chandler and is required to resign all positions due to a retirement restriction. Her retirement conditions require that she step down from each of her responsibilities, including the school board.

When Maiden took her position on the school board, she did not realize that she would be retiring so soon. According to the letter, Maiden retires “with much regret.” 

“I have only been a member for a short time but have certainly enjoyed serving on the board,” she said in the letter.

Kindoll also expressed her regret on behalf of the school board for Maiden’s need to resign.

The school board will begin following procedures for Maiden’s replacement.

Assessment

AssistantSuperintendent Bill Hogan gave a presentation on what he called “philosophical” questions on the way the district assesses its students.

The process has already begun in the elementary schools and will gradually be integrated into upper levels, he said. Other schools in the state are already using this philosophy, but Carroll is one of the first districts in the area to make the change.

Topics in Hogan’s discussion included the relevancy of assessment to students’ needs, whether assessments are accurate and how teachers use assessment results to aid students in setting goals.

Hogan said he believes it is important to emphasize “competency based” assessment, in order to help each student learn in the way that is best for them.