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Anderson's CATS scores show progress

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By Shannon Brock

The Anderson County school district ranks in the top 35 percent in the state, Sheila Mitchell, director of district-wide curriculum, told the Board of Education at its regularly scheduled meeting Monday night.

The ranking is based on Commonwealth Accountability Testing System data for the 2008 biennium.

CATS is a state mandate and is different from No Child Left Behind, which is a federal mandate, Mitchell said.

Students take the Kentucky Core Content Test yearly, and each school and district in the state have a target goal to meet every two years. The school year that ended in May was the end of the 2008 biennium. The school year that began in August is the beginning of the 2010 biennium.

The ultimate goal for each school and district is to score 100 (out of a possible 140) by 2014.

Anderson County's score by the 2008 index was 85.4, which ranks the district 62nd out of 175 in the state.

Anderson County ranks above several surrounding districts including Woodford County (67), Mercer County (84), Franklin County (130) and Frankfort Independent (134).

Based on the 2008 index, Anderson County High School came in 53rd out of 201 high schools in the state and Anderson County Middle School came in 73rd out of 221 middle schools in the state. Out of 503 elementary schools, Robert B. Turner ranks 234, Saffell Street ranks 245 and Emma B. Ward ranks 281.

Even though none of Anderson County's schools have reached 100 and only Turner and Ward met their target goals for the biennium, all of the schools are progressing and have seen improvement over last year's scores, Mitchell said.

The middle school showed the greatest improvement from 2007 to 2008, raising its overall score 8.2 points.

Some grade levels have already reached proficiency in certain subjects by posting scores of over 100.

Eighth-graders scored over 100 in reading, social studies, and arts and humanities.

Fifth-graders at Saffell scored over 100 in reading.

Third-graders at Turner scored over 100 in math and fourth-graders at Turner scored over 100 in math, science and on their writing portfolios.

Third-graders at Ward scored over 100 in math. Their score of 109.3 was the highest in the district. Also, fourth-graders at Ward scored over 100 on their writing portfolios.

"Last month, I presented the NCLB data and I was excited about that," Mitchell told the board. "I'm really excited about this data, too.

"It was a good year. I'm pleased with the overall results."

In other business, the board approved a working budget for the 2008-2009 school year.

One of the biggest concerns was fuel costs, Chief Financial Officer Nick Clark said. This year Clark budgeted $350,000 for fuel, which is $100,000 higher than last year's fuel costs.

The working budget leaves the board with about a 7.5 percent contingency fund, which is lower than the 9-10 percent it usually has.

"Considering how the state budget has impacted other districts, I feel pretty good," Superintendent Kim Shaw said.

The board also approved the addition of two assistant positions at the Early Childhood Center, the purchase of one handicap school bus and two 66-passenger school buses, and the purchase of MAPS assessments, which will track students' progress throughout the year.

Shaw also informed the board of the following personnel actions:

Employed

Jeremy Cook as an assistant swim coach at the high school

Lisa Crabtree as a volunteer with the archery program at Turner

Russell Crabtree as a volunteer with the archery program at Turner

Linda Curtsinger as a substitute bus monitor

Tina Cutter as a bus monitor

Kenneth Burrus as a custodian (four hours per day) at Ward

Laura Gillis as a volunteer with girls golf at the high school

Nichole Hicks as a teacher at Turner

Drew Monarch as a student bus monitor

Kathy Parritt as lead NIMSI math at the high school

Don Simmons as a volunteer with girls soccer at the high school

Brittany Sutherland as head speech/debate coach at the high school

Denna Staber as a teacher at ECC

Stephen Watts as a substitute teacher

Lisa Winfrey as STLP coordinator at the middle school

Resignations

Tracey Birdwhistell as head academic coach at Turner

Tonia Addison as substitute bus monitor

Transfers

Marguerite Wells from a paraeducator at Ward to Title I assistant at Ward

Last week's tax hearing

At a special meeting Sept. 10, the board voted to set its tax rate on real estate and personal property at 55.2 cents, taking a 4 percent revenue increase.

"I think it's irresponsible not to do it," said board member Sandi Whitaker. "But I hate to do it."

Board Chairman Lee Hahn said he hated to raise taxes because "gas is going up, everything is going up."

After some discussion, the 4 percent revenue increase was unanimously approved.

The meeting was also a public hearing, however, only two visitors were present and neither commented on the tax rate.

The board also voted to keep the tax rate for motor vehicle and watercrafts at 51.3 cents.

"It's been at 51.3 for a number of years," Shaw said.