Wednesday, February 10, 2010

School News from Around Kentucky

JCPS uses social and emotional learning to close gaps: Educators in Kentucky's Jefferson County are using social and emotional learning to improve achievement among its students and close gaps. Superintendent Sheldon Berman developed the CARE for Kids, which is considered a national model. "This isn't touchy-feely stuff," Berman said. "It's core social skills that give kids the knowledge and experience to work effectively with others. This isn't about being nice. It's serious work to create a sense of community and resolve conflicts." (Edutopia)

KSBA, U of L, state energy agency partner to fund school energy managers - $5.1 million to be available to districts by this spring: KSBA will be helping Kentucky schools access $5.1 million in federal stimulus funds to hire energy managers who will focus on reducing utility expenses and improving schools’ conservation and environmental practices.
Gov. Steve Beshear announced grants through the Kentucky Energy Efficiency Program for Schools (KEEPS) Monday at Roby Elementary School in Bullitt County. The KEEPS grants process is a partnership between the Kentucky Department of Energy Development and Independence, the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center (KPPC) and KSBA. “Energy costs are the second largest expense for the typical school district in our Commonwealth,” Beshear said. “Thirty percent of those costs are wasted in the schools in a daily basis, not because they are being wasteful but because of the older ways that schools were structured. “This innovative program will help school districts reduce energy consumption and lower operating expenses,” the governor said. “With this funding, (KSBA) will help districts hire energy managers who will be trained by KPPC to implement energy efficiency methods. (KSBA)

Dual credit program a success: Hundreds of students at Harlan County High School are moving closer to high school graduation and accumulating hours toward their college degree at the same time. Many of the classes offered in the dual credit program are free to students.School officials report 329 enrollments in dual credit classes being offered at HCHS in collaboration with Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. Harlan County Schools Superintendent Tim Saylor said he encourages students who plan to go on to college to meet with guidance counselors to discuss the opportunities available at HCHS for dual credit classes. Parents are encouraged to talk with the counselors as well. “This is a tremendous opportunity for our students,” he said. “It also saves families a lot of money on a college education. College tuition continues to go up. Our students are taking advantage of this great opportunity to lighten the financial burden on parents in funding their college education.” (Harlan Daily Enterprise)

Frost Middle students suspended for taking drugs at school: Twelve students from Frost Middle School were suspended and two others were withdrawn from Jefferson County Public Schools by their parents after an incident involving drugs on Friday. Lauren Roberts, spokeswoman for the school district, said Monday that two eighth-graders brought an unknown prescription drug to school on Friday and allegedly passed pills out to 12 other eighth-graders. “Apparently all 12 of them took the pills,” she said. “Two of them began to act strangely and EMS was called. Those two students were transported to the hospital. While this was happening, we were able to get the names of the other students who allegedly took the pills.” Roberts said another student was taken to the hospital by the student’s parent. Roberts said the 12 students who took the pills were suspended and the two students who dispensed the pills would have been disciplined, but their parents withdrew them from the school district. (Courier-Journal)

Lawmakers look for savings in Medicaid to help with budget hole - SEEK could be at risk in second year, corrections costs keep growing: As lawmakers struggle to put together a two-year state budget, they appear to be resorting to tried and true methods. No tax increases. No expanded gambling. Juggle spending among areas of the state budget while depending on the federal government to come through with a second round of extra money for Medicaid as part of a second stimulus package. Medicaid is paid for by both the federal and state governments. As part of the federal stimulus, the feds upped their portion to 80 cents on the dollar from 70 cents. But whenever those increased federal dollars go back to the usual level, the state will have to reduce Medicaid payments or make up the a larger Medicaid deficit than it started out with. (Daily-Independent)

Ex-Fayette teacher sentenced in sex case: Roberta Blackwell Walter, a former teacher at Beaumont Junior High School in Lexington, will spend a week in jail and 90 days in home incarceration for molesting two teenage students more than 30 years ago. Walter, 63, who was initially charged in 2007 with third-degree sodomy and third-degree rape, pleaded guilty to two amended charges of sexual misconduct on Friday. The initial charges were felonies that carried penalties of one to five years in prison. Sexual misconduct is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty ranging from a fine to 12 months in jail. Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael gave Walter, who now lives in Nashville, two 12-month conditionally probated sentences that are to be served concurrently. After spending seven days in the Fayette County jail, Walter will be in home incarceration in Lexington for 90 days, then will have 90 days of unsupervised probation. She will get no credit for the several days she spent in jail just after she was arrested. (H-L)

Rethinking NCLB: Despite its noble goals, the No Child Left Behind law has been problematic from day one. It was never adequately funded. Its heavy emphasis — some might argue its over-emphasis — on “high stakes testing” continues to rattle and discourage many teachers.
Moreover, thousands of public schools have been declared “failures” under the law because not enough of their students managed to achieve federally set and mandated “adequate yearly progress.” Only 28 percent of Jefferson County's 133 public schools last year met all of their NCLB-mandated reading and math goals. Finally, deep suspicions remain that an ulterior motive behind “failing” so many public schools is to justify turning the responsibility for education over to private entrepreneurs. But now comes the Obama administration with a proposal to overhaul NCLB to give states greater flexibility — to reward great teachers and to replace NCLB's “adequate yearly progress” model with one that will present a “broader picture of school performance that looks at student growth and school progress.” NCLB has helped to expose achievement gaps, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, but he argued that it has also unfairly labeled many schools, including many in Kentucky that are especially challenged by what's essentially a one-size-fits-all federal standard for student achievement when large numbers of their students are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced lunch or don't even speak English as their first language. As for an NCLB revamp, “everything's on the table,” according to Mr. Duncan. Needless to say, the devil will be in the details. Even so, after eight years, a good case has been made that there's a crying need for a more realistic and nuanced approach to student testing and to rating individual schools' performance. (C-J)

No comments: