Anniston BOE talks about more stringent grading, but to no conclusion
by Paige Rentz
prentz@annistonstar.com
Aug 16, 2013 | 2674 views |  0 comments | 57 57 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Despite continued discussions on making the grading scale more stringent for all students in the public school system, the Anniston Board of Education came to no conclusions Thursday.

At the board’s meeting, board member C.K. Huguley pushed for the passing mark to be raised from 60 to 70, but other members were more reluctant.

The board members did agree to consider implementing a nine-week grading period to align other city schools with the high school. However, the board must take written feedback on proposed policy changes for 30 days before voting on them.

Superintendent Joan Frazier said after the meeting that she expects a change in grading periods to come up for a vote in 30 days, but the issue of the grading scale “is just going to be gathering data and continued discussion.”

Board member Mary Klinefelter said she felt like the board should maintain the 10-point grading scale that is the norm for the area, and William Hutchings echoed her sentiment.

“Realistically, we’ve got kind of an almost impossible question to consider,” board member Bill Robison added. “Based on what the test is, this class’ 63 may show more knowledge than that schools’ 77.” He noted that without some sort of standardization, grading scales are difficult to compare. “Since there’s no standardization, 63 is only meaningful to us.”

Randolph Park Elementary School Principal Teresia Hall noted that Anniston’s student population is transient and changing the grading scale would put Anniston out of line with neighboring schools and potentially cause confusion.

“We have beefed up our instruction…That’s what’s going to make the difference,” she said.

But Huguley said the system has a problem with proficiency and should hold students to higher expectations. “If you raise the standards and put in support they need, then we can create success stories,” she said of programs such as after-school tutoring.

Board President Donna Ross said she felt the schools could raise expectations while leaving the grading scale the same. “If a grading scale were truly important, the state would mandate it,” she said.

The board also approved a timeline for its superintendent search that would have a new administrator in place by Feb. 18.

“That gives us some wiggle room,” Robison said, adding that it also provides transition time for a new superintendent to become acquainted with the district while Frazier is still on the premises.

When Sandra Sims-DeGraffenreid of the board’s chosen search firm, BWP & Associates, first met with the board last month, she explained that under such circumstances, outgoing superintendents often transition into a consultant contract for the remaining months of their tenure in order to serve after the appointment of a new superintendent. Frazier said Thursday that there has been no determinations about her contract thus far.

“We’re still looking at what we’re going to do for an easy transition,” she said.

Under the timeline, approved by the board, BWP would begin with a month-long online survey about the district and future superintendent by Sept. 6. The board will approve a position announcement by Sept. 26 in order to begin advertising the position by Oct. 1. BWP should then return a list of finalists to the board by Dec. 5, with the board naming a superintendent by January 17.

In other business, the board:

— Approved the 2012 fiscal year financial audit report by Keith Hundley of Carr, Riggs & Ingram. Hundley said the firm issued an unqualified opinion for the district’s financials, the best opinion it can issue. The word “unqualified” in this case is positive, meaning approval without reservations.

— Scheduled a called meeting for Aug. 20 at 4 p.m. with a work session to follow. The board will address personnel recommendations for new staff for the coming year and discuss funding requests to the city.

— Approved a new schedule of salary supplements for extra-curricular coaches and sponsors.

— Approved the 2013-2014 faculty and student/parent handbooks, with Huguley voting ‘no.’

— Approved a revised code of student conduct for the coming school year. The new code allows students to use smart phones and other personal electronic devices under certain restrictions for classroom instruction with faculty and administrative discretion.

— Approved $10,000 to help pay for a study that will result in a plan for development of west Anniston as a joint initiative with the city of Anniston and the Anniston Housing Authority. Robison abstained.

— Agreed to cancel upcoming ward meetings with the City Council. Instead, Frazier said, the board will participate with council members at strategic planning meetings scheduled for Sept. 12, 17 and 19.

Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.
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