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Rita Bishop said she has addressed the issue by bolstering the school’s math resources.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Several central office administrators have been dispatched to William Fleming High School to help teach math, and more changes could be on the way, aimed at bolstering the school’s math resources and in turn its student achievement.
Superintendent Rita Bishop said Tuesday she is worried about the school’s math performance and how that could affect its accreditation status.
She said she placed the administrators in the school within the past several weeks, and told the school board she intends to ask them to vote on a plan for the school in July, using what’s called “embedded instructional leaders.”
Last year Fleming was accredited with warning in math, social studies and graduation rate. Bishop said during a school board meeting Tuesday she is optimistic about social studies and the graduation rate, but she’s “quite worried about math.”
“If we were not to make it in math it would be second year in warning and that’s really a deep, deep concern,” she said. “I’m just going to tell you right now I have a plan.”
Bishop said using embedded instructional personnel would mean the school would have a staffer whose sole job is to work with the principal and lead instruction.
While looking to improve Fleming’s math instruction, Bishop did praise the school, saying it has excellent leadership and its teachers are working hard.
Fleming is not alone in its math challenges. Bishop said Tuesday that officials are also looking closely at Patrick Henry High School.
Additionally, Virginia’s new math Standards of Learning are tough and schools statewide have had to examine math scores and resources. There’s also the question of finding and keeping qualified, experienced people to teach math, something Roanoke City Public Schools is attempting to do with a new incentive program that offers bonuses for math teachers.
As for moving the administrators into the classroom, Bishop said it is unusual but she has done it before. She said she’s doing what needs to be done.
“All schools need to be accredited,” she said.
In other news, the board also discussed potential raises for staffers, noting while they are being considered, a definitive answer on salaries won’t come until May or June.
Officials talked about the challenges associated with giving a 2 percent raise to employees. Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed a 2 percent raise for educators, and the state’s share of such a raise for Standards of Quality positions is included in the state budget.
To fund salary increases, though, local school systems must fund a local match and if they opt to give all employees raises, not just those where state funds are available, that portion as well. Education leaders throughout the area have struggled with whether they can afford the raises. Roanoke County has already opted to forgo them.
In Roanoke, officials have placed a 2 percent raise for all staffers in the system’s categorical budget that has been sent to the city council. But that does not make it official, and system leaders said Tuesday the deadline to decide on raises is June.
“This is something that is under consideration,” school board Chairman David Carson said. “It hasn’t been ruled out and it hasn’t been ruled in.”
Two percent raises for all city schools staffers would cost the system about $2 million and the state funding for such raises is estimated to be about $775,000.
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