Thursday, August 06, 2009

School News from Around Kentucky

He said, she said - What an OEA investigation means for Union County: The Office of Education Accountability (OEA) has begun an investigation into the Union County School District based on anonymous unconfirmed complaints this week. Union County Superintendent Josh Powell confirmed OEA began interviews in the district on Wednesday, July 22 and completed their investigation on Friday, July 24. This is the second time this year for OEA to visit the district. They held a previous investigation in January. “Being investigated by the OEA is not uncommon among Kentucky school districts,” Powell stated via memo. “Rumors and false allegations are typical- even expected- when aggressive improvements are being made in a low- performing district.” (Union County Advocate)

Union Co schools chief gets top honor: In just one year, Union County Schools raised its index score in the practical living portion of an important state test more than 17 index points. In a separate reading and math assessment, some elementary students saw improvements of up to 30 points. These "historic academic gains" and other reasons were what garnered Superintendent Josh Powell the Kentucky Association of School Administrators' 2009 Administrator of the Year Award. But the man who, at 34, describes himself as the youngest superintendent in the state instead credited his staff. (The Gleaner)

Heat not the cause of death for athlete: A 16-year-old Fort Campbell High School football player did not die Wednesday from a heat-related illness. Department of Defense schools spokeswoman Cindy Gibson said this morning that it could be weeks before the results of the autopsy on Timothy Williams are known. The Davidson County Medical Examiner’s Office performed the autopsy. “We heard late yesterday that they wrote on the death certificate natural causes,” Gibson said. “That pretty much rules out any heat-related illness. But we won’t know for sure what caused it for weeks.” Falcons’ football coach Shawn Berner said Williams, an offensive and defensive lineman, showed no signs of distress shortly before he became ill Tuesday morning at the Falcons’ practice field. (Kentucky New Era by way of KSBA)

Editorial - Drop the Secrecy: Why won't some school board members accept the truth? The Jefferson County Board of Education made a serious mistake when it decided to evaluate Superintendent Sheldon Berman in secret...The notion that the school board would waste money appealing the attorney general's decision in the Berman case is shocking, but that's what Chairwoman Debbie Wesslund is considering. More sensible is the reaction of board member Larry Hujo who concedes, “We goofed up.” n appeal would turn a goof-up into a major assault on the public interest. The Courier-Journal)

5 dismissed from Dunbar football team for hazing: Five players have been dismissed from the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School football team, following what was described by officials as a "hazing" incident among players at the school Monday afternoon. Principal Anthony Orr said a freshman player was struck in the head by a 10-pound medicine ball during the incident. The youngster was checked and released at a Lexington hospital, Orr said Wednesday.
"He is fine but is taking it easy for the rest of the week," Orr said. "We were very fortunate it wasn't worse than it was." (The Herald-Leader)

Families want JCPS to stop busing kindergarteners: Two Louisville families opposing the Jefferson County Public Schools assignment plan asked a federal judge Wednesday for an immediate injunction to halt all kindergarten assignments for the coming school year, set to begin Aug. 13. They argue that their children, who will be kindergartners this year, were denied the school they wanted based on an assignment plan they say unconstitutionally uses race. They also say that school officials improperly applied the district's new diversity guidelines to kindergarten, even though the district doesn't require that grade to meet the guidelines.(C-J)

EKU Works with Local Schools to Develop Math Transition Course: Through its P-16 Regional Council, Eastern Kentucky University has entered into a collaborative arrangement with two local school districts to develop a math transition course. The course, to be taught at Madison Central, Madison Southern and Berea Community high schools beginning this fall, is expected to reduce the number of students who must enroll in developmental math courses (for no academic credit) in college. The transitional algebra course targets seniors who have successfully completed algebra I, geometry and algebra II, but do not have ACT math scores that allow them to enroll in regular college math courses. (EKU)

KDE asks feds to waive 14-day parent notice on AYP for some schools due to ice, wind storms: Citing delays caused by last school year’s severe ice and wind storms, the Kentucky Department of Education is asking the federal government to waive a requirement — for some schools — that parents be given notice of failure to meet NCLB progress targets at least two weeks prior to opening day. (Brad Hughes @ KSBA)

Teacher pay, tech subjects, leadership are keys to education’s role in Eastern Kentucky's economy: Those with competing visions of the economic future of Eastern Kentucky agree on at least one thing: education is central. Almost every county school district in the state’s eastern coalfield has test scores below the state average, and the region has Kentucky’s lowest share of high-school graduates... Gov. Steve Beshear...point[s] to an exception that gives them hope for the region. “Johnson County,” he says. “There's a group of people there that are dedicated to delivering quality education to their kids, and they’re making a huge difference.” Lisa Gross, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, calls it the “finest school system” in Kentucky. (Institute for Rural Journalism)

Witnesses told prosecutors Stinson admitted losing cool Prosecutors - PRP coach was angry over Aug. 20 practice: Three witnesses told prosecutors that they heard Pleasure Ridge Park High School football coach Jason Stinson admit in a hospital waiting room on Aug. 20 — after two players collapsed during practice — that he had been angry with his team and "I lost my cool," according to court records released this week...Several players...said that the Aug. 20 practice was the hardest they had ever been through and that Stinson was uncharacteristically angry and cursing and denied players water, according to summaries of interviews released Monday. (C-J)

Stinson's attorneys ask judge to prohibit testimony about water breaks and running: Attorneys for former Pleasure Ridge Park football coach Jason Stinson want a judge to keep out testimony from his trial that players were denied water or ran more than normal at a practice last year where sophomore lineman Max Gilpin collapsed and later died, saying the allegations are not relevant to the teen's death. (C-J)

Berman, PRP official to testify on behalf of Stinson: Sheldon Berman, the superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools, and an assistant principal at Pleasure Ridge Park High School will both be called to testify on behalf of former football coach Jason Stinson, who will stand trial Aug. 31 on a charge of reckless homicide in the death of player Max Gilpin. (C-J)

Kentucky Approved for State Fiscal Stabilization Funds - ARRA program helps maintain SEEK formula for basic P-12 classroom funding and postsecondary education funding: Kentucky will receive $651 million as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (ARRA) State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) program, Gov. Steve Beshear announced today. The new, one-time appropriation is part of approximately $48.6 billion the U.S. Department of Education has awarded to governors to help stabilize state and local budgets and help school districts and postsecondary institutions avoid severe budget cuts and retain teachers and other staff. (The Gov)

Graduate Kentucky Summit - A Summit to Address Kentucky's Dropout Problem: (Capital Plaza Hotel and the Frankfort Convention Center) On September 11-12, 2009, Kentuckians from across the Commonwealth will come together in Frankfort to participate in Graduate Kentucky: A Community Approach. This is a first of its kind comprehensive statewide conversation to not only understand why students are contemplating dropping out of school, but to also share ideas and best practices of how communities can play a pivotal role in reducing the dropout rate and creating a strategic vision for keeping our children engaged in school. (The Gov)

New education takes over Wednesday - THE ISSUE - Kentucky's new education commissioner OUR VIEW - Time to roll up his sleeves: Our local students and teachers aren’t the only ones who have go back to school this week. The state’s new commissioner of education begins his job Wednesday. And he sure has his work cut out for him. Terry Holliday’s first assignment: Design and implement a new student testing system as directed by the General Assembly. Concurrently, at the top of Terry Holliday’s to-do list should be an aggressive plan to improve the very image and credibility of the position he has been hired to fill for $225,000 annually. (News Enterprise)

Butler girls basketball coach fired for taking money from students: Jefferson County Public Schools has fired the girls basketball coach for Butler High School for having an inappropriate relationship with a female student — and for taking money from students who wanted to avoid running in his gym class, according to a district investigation released Monday. Michael Eddy Wilson, whose team won the state championship in 2008, was found to have exchanged more than 555 text messages and calls with the girl, totaling 5,399 minutes between mid-December 2008 and mid-April 2009, including 74 that occurred between midnight and 8 a.m. (C-J)

Governor announces flu summit: State officials are urging Kentucky's school superintendents to start planning now for the possibility of another surge in swine flu cases after schools reopen. Meanwhile, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Wednesday that the state will hold a statewide Pandemic Influenza Summit in Frankfort next month to plan for any problems with the H1N1 swine flu virus when flu season begins this fall. A potential vaccination campaign also will be discussed, the governor said. (H-L)

Classes to start amid renovations at 5 Fayette schools - Classes will start amid renovations at 5 schools: Some Fayette County Public Schools students will return to classes Aug. 12 to the sight of workers in hard hats and the sound of construction. But school officials insist that the results will be worth any inconvenience. Five Fayette schools — Arlington Elementary, Russell Cave Elementary, Leestown Middle, Bryan Station Middle and Cassidy Elementary — will be in the midst of renovation projects when classes resume, and the work will be continue throughout the school year. The projects will cost more than $56 million. (H-L)

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