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Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015

Uniontown district to eye new promotion policy

Thursday, December 13, 2012

UNIONTOWN -- USD 235 Superintendent Randy Rockhold said administrators and members of the school board want to make sure that fifth- through eighth-grade students in his district have proven mastery of their subjects before the district advances them to the next level.

During USD 235's monthly meeting, Rockhold presented the board with a policy implementation program in which students in those grades would be required to achieve a C- or better in courses to be considered for advancement. Should a student not meet that requirement, they would be required to attend specialized summer school in that content area. Students would then have to master the summer school content before advancing to the next grade level.

"In the high school, there already is a lot of accountability," Rockhold said on Wednesday. "They have to pass everything before they can graduate, plus maturity kicks in and they realize how important it is that they do well, which continually advances their learning."

The policy will be presented as an agenda item for approval at the Jan. 14, 2013, board meeting. If approved, it will become effective for the second semester of the 2012-2013 school year.

In his presentation to the board Monday, Rockhold wrote, "It is our mission to prepare every student so they can pursue their dreams and we realize the level of educational proficiency dictates the prevalence of options our graduates are afforded."

Technology upgrades also were a topic of discussion at the board meeting, specifically the option of purchasing laptops for each of the roughly 135 Uniontown High School students for 2013-2014, and upgrades to computer labs in Uniontown Junior High and West Bourbon Elementary. Rockhold added the district would also like to purchase 68-inch Smart boards for each classroom. The boards allow more interactive learning for students by projecting computer images onto the board where they can then be manipulated.

"We've been planning for an upgrade," Rockhold said. "We have $80,000 that we are going to carry over from this year's budget. Knowing we have a major technology need coming up, we also have $33,000 planned from next year's budget for technology and textbooks."

Each year, Rockhold said, the district also receives a REAP (Rural Education Achievement Program) grant of $16,000 to $20,000.

Rockhold said the grants are distributed to schools that are rural, have a high poverty rate and an enrollment below 650 students.

"We know the key to making people lifelong learners is enabling them to learn to read to learn," Rockhold said. "When you are dealing with a laptop, you are really expanding that. There are so many amazing things they can do to excite themselves about learning and produce products that are professional -- just A-plus type work."

Rockhold added that USD 235 students received Certificates of Recognition in numerous areas from the Confidence in Public Education Task Force, comprised of eight academic organizations, including the Kansas State Board of Education, Kansas National Education Association and Kansas Association of School Boards.

To qualify for a Certificate of Recognition, a school must finish in the top 60 statewide in a given content area. Uniontown students received certificates in 11th grade math and reading. Awards are based on results of the 2012 Kansas State Assessments and other factors.

The district had already received a Certificate of Merit in eighth-grade math, which places them at the top of in their region, of which there are 10 in the state. They also received Certificates of Merit in fourth-grade math and reading, fifth-grade math and reading and sixth-grade math and reading.

Rockhold pointed out that UHS Language Arts teacher Alicia Jackson's students have received either a Certificate of Merit or Certificate of Recognition in reading in each of the six years the awards have been presented.

"It's just amazing," Rockhold said. "She's the best. All of her students are proficient -- every single one of them. That's just a testimony to what she can do."

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