The Altus Public School District Board of Education recognized a special Altus High School teacher for being the 2014 Oklahoma History Teacher of the Year and the 2014 National History Teacher the Year Finalist, and voted on new athletic event admission prices during their regular Board meeting on Thursday, Aug. 14, and considered other items on the agenda. Also, Altus Superintendent Roger Hill reported on a small decline in this year’s school enrollment.
At the start of the meeting, BOE President Keith Phillips introduced Lt. Col. Terri Jones, the new Altus Air Force Base Ex-Officio School Board Member. Previously stationed at Maxwell AFB in Alabama, Jones is replacing Col. Michael Greiner.
During Superintendent’s reports and comments, Superintendent Hill recognized and congratulated AHS History Teacher, James LeGrand, for being named the 2014 Oklahoma History Teacher of the Year. The award is co-sponsored by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, HISTORY®, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation on behalf of its Preserve America program, and the Oklahoma History Center. LeGrand will receive $1,000 honorarium. LeGrand will also travel to Washington D.C., this fall as a finalist for the 2014 National History Teacher of the year.
LeGrand was asked to speak about his recent accomplishments and stated, “The last few months have been absolutely overwhelming with the attention I’ve been getting for something that I show up for everyday, that I love to do. I really wish that every teacher could feel a tenth of the appreciation, love, and support that I’ve felt over the last three or four months. It’s almost too much… I look forward to representing our school and our community next month at the State Fair for the Teacher of the Year.”
Superintendent Hill reported that 3,557 students have enrolled this year, down 137 students from the previous year. Each school is down in enrollment, with the exception of Sunset elementary, yet there are also seventeen less teachers this year.
“We’ve had a lot of reassignments this year to offset the attrition and vacancies that we’ve had,” Superintendent Hill said. “Pretty much every school site has fewer teachers this year as opposed to last year.”
Hill also reported on the 2014-15 Accreditation Status, saying, “I’m very pleased to that every one of our schools were accredited with no deficiencies.” The School District was issued the accreditation with a warning due to Altus Intermediate School having been previously placed on a 2-year “focus school” list.
Also during the meeting, the Board approved, with a 3 yes and 1 abstain vote, to raise the ticket prices to $5 for all spectators attending any Altus High School or Junior High athletic event. As requested and researched by Altus Head Coach and Athletic Director, Jeremy Reed, the new price of admission was found to be the “average” price of the schools listed on the athletic schedule, BOE President Phillips explained. Additionally, the increased ticket price will offset traveling expenses as well as pay officials and gate workers. Rates were previously set at $4 for students and $5 for adults at the high school, and $3 for students and $4 adults for adults at junior high events. All revenue will go back into the athletic activity fund.
Board member Kelly Duncan commented that raising admission prices can become very expensive for a family with several students. “There are a lot people I see that are already griping about some of the prices. I stand right behind them. They have multiple kids, I mean it adds up,” Duncan said, who abstained from the vote.
Board members received an update on the 1 to 1 Technology Initiative presented by Dr. Rusty Garrett, Altus School District Technology Director. The mulit-phase initiative aims to bring mobile computing devices into the classroom for teachers and students. During Phase I, school administrators and teachers received 310 new Apple Mac Book’s and training. So far, 40 have been distributed and trained on. Teachers will be able to utilize the latest technology to develop lesson plans for students.
“The ultimate goal is for all children to have access to technology all the time,” Dr. Garrett said. “[Studies show] the kids are a lot more engaged, they love technologies, and the quality and quantity of their work really increases by using technology in the classroom.”
Phase II is to bring in 1020 iPads for middle school and junior high students. Sixth graders and up will likely be allowed to take those devices for home use. Phase III, is 865 Mac Books for the high school students. Phase IV, is 550 iPads for 3rd and fourth grade students and 500 iPad Minis for pre-k to 2nd grade students. The total cost, $3.7 million, will be budgeted over a 10 year plan. The District plans to use Impact Aid money, funds from the technology budget, as well as textbook funds and training funds.
“We’re going to pull a lot different monies together on a yearly basis to fund this,” Dr. Garrett said.
The Board approved several other agenda items including the consent agenda, claims, revised school policies, resignations and retirements, reassignment of district personnel, and substitutes, times sheet employees, volunteers and extra duty assignments. They also approved certified and non-certified personnel on a temporary contract.
The Board also approved to implement a district-wide Employee of the Month program for 2014-15.
A list of items was declared as surplus for disposal via public sale, and also approved a list of vehicles as surplus to be disposed of via bid process to the public.
Swim Coach Linda Wiginton was approve to attend the Texas Swim Coaches Clinic in Austin, Tx., Sept. 18-21.