6/22/16 ABSS Notes from June Work Session

ABSS Notes from June Work Session
By Adam Powell Enterprise Staff Writer, The Mebane Enterprise 6/22/16  
Reprinted with permission.      

At its work session the afternoon of Monday, June 13, members of the Alamance-Burlington School System’s board of education considered a variety of topics, including the extension of multiple contract and rental agreements, and the results of a series of surveys provided by ABSS teachers and principals.

The board also heard some of the highlights across the school district over the past year.

  • The ABSS system is moving forward with the Access ONE program with May Library and the Alamance County Public Libraries.

    It will be just the second such program in the state, joining Charlotte-Mecklenburg County.

    This cardless program will allow students the opportunity to utilize public library resources through their association with the school system.

    The item has been put on the Consent Agenda for the next ABSS monthly meeting on June 27.
  • According to Robin Bowers, CTE (Career & Technical Education) Director at ABSS, 923 high school students across the district took honors or AP (Advanced Placement)/CTE courses in the 2015-2016 school year. The ABSS school system currently has 14 CTE courses approved for honors weight, plus 12 more that are referred to as ‘inherently honors,’ combining for a total of 26 classes that can be taken at honor’s weight, in addition to two Advanced Placement courses. Six more classes could become available before next year.
  • 675 students were part of ABSS’s Career and Technical Training Program. Six students earned the ACC Honors Machining Certificate and participated in ACC graduation. 22 students participated in ACC machining cohort. 132 students, including 40 incoming freshmen, are interested in WWH Finance Academy. 173 students are interested in the Fire Safety/Firefighter Academy program that will be coming to Graham High School. 110 teachers and students were involved in the CTE Program Partnership, while 275 students attended job fair and career fairs for a variety of local employers.
  • The Career and Technical Education plans for 16-17 include equipment needs for technology education at the middle school level, equipment needs for the firefighter academy, upgrading program equipment and laboratories according to schedule, and pursuing ACT work-ready community status with the Alamance Chamber of Commerce, NC Works, and Alamance Community College.

    Students that are graduating that have earned the work keys, local partners will recognize the level of work readiness that students have. The application with the Chamber, NC Works, and ACC, has been approved.

    Notifying business partners. Seven local businesses are currently partners.
  • New CTE courses for the 2016-2017 school year include Principles of Safety and Human Services (replacing Teen Living), Food Science Honors, Computer Engineering Tech II (which leads to A+ certification), Public Safety Fire Safety Technology (Fire Fighter Tech II), and Intro to Collision Repair, AP Computer Science Principles.
  • The county is continuing its milk product contract with Maola, while switching its paper product service to Cisco. The ABSS board is obligated to vote on such contracts because of their size, totaling over $100,000 a year. The Maola contract is reportedly just over $681,000, according to Assistant Superintendent for Operations Dr. Todd Thorpe. The Cisco contract, which includes items such as hot wax paper, baking papers, and tray papers for the lunch room, came in at approximately $315,000 — the most competitive offer the board received for next school year.
  • After final calculations were completed on a lunch price increase, a proposed five cent increase would have left ABSS responsible for $25,166.90 at the end of the 2016-2017 school year. To avoid this direct expense to the school district, there was a request to the board to add an additional nickel increase for the 2016-2017 school year, for a total increase of ten cents. The proposal was approved by a 4-2 vote. Board members Steve Van Pelt, Allison Gant, Mark Payne, and Jackie Cole voted in favor of the ten cent lunch price increase, while Pamela Thompson and Tony Rice voted against the increase.
  • The board approved the renewal of ABSS’s Rental Agreement with Summit Church, which hosts portions of Hawfields Middle School, including the cafeteria. The arrangement has been “very successful” according to Mebane City Council member Ed Hooks, who supported the request for another year-long lease agreement. The ABSS board has to approve such arrangements if the length of the rental period is longer than three months.
  • ABSS’s board is considering third-party consulting services for an Energy Saving Performance Contract.

    The board is currently asking for qualifications, with no commitment by the school system yet, for an energy-saving engineer who can analyze the system’s schools, attempt to establish cost savings, serve as a third-party reviewer who would review everything happening throughout the system as far as energy consumption, provide advice throughout construction projects, evaluate numbers and savings. etc.. The board has a list of companies that have been used in the past, and the school system advertised on the ABSS website and local papers. The independent consultant would be ABSS’s right hand on how to save energy at its various schools.
  • While the school system would be responsible for covering the cost of an initial evaluation, the board can roll the costs into the annual savings once they implement a contract. “They will give us a set price. There will be a set price to come in an evaluate the companies up to that point. Once the performance contract begins, then it becomes a percent of the total contract,” Dr. Thorpe said.

    According to Thorpe, there would be no cost to ABSS implementing an Energy Saving Performance Contract over the long haul, saying, “The initial cost will be determined, but at the time of the performance contracting, you can either pay up front or roll the costs into the initial costs of the contract.

    The (selected) person’s pay would subsequently be factored into the savings of the project itself.”

    “What we want to do is find as much savings as we can throughout the district,” Thorpe added.
  • The ABSS board members took a candid look at data from anonymous school leadership surveys throughout ABSS over a three-year period.

    Approximately 85 percent of all teachers and principals around the school district participated.

    The numbers revealed a 5 percent increase in professional development, a ‘nice trend line,” according to the system’s superintendent, Dr. William Harrison. There were also increases in a variety of other metrics, including teacher leadership.

    “Teacher leadership is part of our strategic plan, and we’re seeing growth there. That’s what I’m looking for, at least, is positive growth trends,” board chairman Steve Van Pelt said.

    Two of the lowest metrics were managing student conduct, and the use of time in schools across the district.

    “I think the trend lines look good everywhere except facilities and resources,” board member Tony Rose said.

    “If our facilities are in need, then we need to frame that to the public in a positive way so we can get the support we need,” board member Allison Gant added.

    “Facilities and resources is really the only area that we’ve seen a consistent slide down. And we need to find a way to turn that around,” Dr. Harrison said. “We and probably every other school system, we’re suspending the same students over and over again. With some students, we’ve got to be more creative. It’s something that we have to have substantive conversations at the school house level between principals and teachers, and then what can we do (as a school board) to support those efforts.”

    “In the use of PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Support), some schools have had great success, and others have had minimal success,” Harrison continued. “Some schools have success at certain grade levels. What we’ve talked with our principals about is using some kind of system that is developed from the ground up at the school. It’s kind of a deal of principals and teachers need to get together and negotiate standards.”

    The board members agreed that the data was a good introspective into the thinking of school administrators around the county, and non-board members associated with ABSS in attendance at the meeting seemed to appreciate the board spending time assessing and discussing the data.

    “I’m glad we’re looking at (the survey data), and not just letting it sit on the shelf. We’re making every effort to improve, and that’s that,” Van Pelt said