State of the city school district good, superintendent says

Superintendent Dr. Lance Evans presents his 'State of the District' report
February 10th, 2020     City schools Featured

New Albany schools are continuing to improve in nearly every respect, Superintendent Dr. Lance Evans told trustees this past week.

In a “State of the District” report, he said the district had improved from 46thbest out of 149 districts two years ago to 16thbest out of 146 districts this past year.

Achievements have been made in all the goals set forth in the district’s strategic plan, he said.

Student achievement has been increased, partly thanks to certified teachers being placed in the Pre-K program and target numbers have been exceeded, he said.

Concerning the third grade reading gate that must be passed before a student can move to fourth grade, Evans said, “ Ninety-five percent of our students passed in 2018-2019.” The percentage was slightly lower the next year as it was for others, but still high enough for the New Albany district to rate fourth-best in the state.

Evans went through a review of test scores in English Language Arts, Math, Science and U. S. History with New Albany students doing well in each.

A second main goal was ensuring continuous instructional improvement. Evans said teachers have been focusing of what good instruction looks like and adjusting their teaching from the former ways of having students seated in regimented rows. “We have stripped out stuff that gets in the way,” he said.

Evans noted that New Albany has achieved status as an Apple Distinguished School, based on its extensive use of technology in instruction. “There are only 400 in the world. You have to be asked and you have to renew every three years,” he said.

A third goal, providing equity in educational excellence, was attributed to the increase in technical instruction and job skills.

Fourth, preparing all students to be college- and career-ready, is being supported by innovative programs such as IMPACTO, which provides practical training for interns with credit, income and likely employment. “We have kids leaving us,” Evans said, and providing practical job skills will help. It may also prevent families from wasting money on college when alternatives may be better.

The final goal, rebranding the school system, is being carried out through the use of social media, he said. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and others are being used extensively by staff.

Also, each school is being equipped with and “Imagine Lab” with the latest in STEAM training equipment. Funding has kept the labs “fund neutral,” he said with no excess cost to the district.

A major project mentioned only briefly was the proposal to build a new high school where the present career and technical center is, move that career center to the present high school wing, construct a new gym behind the high school and make other improvements.

Evans is working on a financial plan for the project, which he believes can be started in the next six or seven years based on recent tax millage increases.

As part of this master plan Evans showed an architect’s rendering of what the completed project might look like.

In personnel, trustees approved:

  • The resignation of Thomas White as teacher and coach at the middle school, effective at the end of the school year.
  • The resignation of Meghan Besaw as teacher at the middle school effective at the end of the school year.
  • Changing Vickie Baker from head custodian to custodian at the elementary school effective Feb. 3.
  • Hiring Dylan Rainey (no relation to school board member David Rainey) for maintenance at the central office, replacing Larry Bradley.

In action items, trustees approved purchase of renovation material to improve the appearance of the middle school cafeteria. Evans said some federal funds were available so there would be no cost to the district.

The board also gave approval for the high school band to go to Orlando, Fla., April 1-5 to participate in a Disney parade.

Director of Accounting Services Suzanne Coffey said the district’s financial health continues to be good and expenses and revenue are going along within budgeted ranges, as they have been for some time.

She said the district’s fund balance has been at its lowest recently but will begin to go up. That’s because the end of the year is when tax collections tend to be lowest until collections for the new year begin coming in.

Also, trustees were honored for National School Board Appreciation Week, and presented with gifts from students at each of the city schools.

Before adjourning, the board went into executive session to discuss a personnel issue but reported no action.

The next meeting of the New Albany school board is scheduled for Monday, March 2, at 5:30 p.m. in the boardroom of the central office.

This rendering of the proposed renovated high school is actually too large to reproduce well here, but is at the central administration office.

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