Macon County signs on for another year of Lindamood Bell program
The Macon County School Board unanimously voted to reauthorize the Lindamood Bell Learning Process (LBLP) for another year at its regular meeting last Tuesday in Nantahala.
The program, which began last summer, focused on training teachers throughout the districts on LBLP reading intervention programs. After teachers in Macon County began implementing programs such “Seeing Stars,” students who had previously struggled with reading and comprehension made great strides, according to early test results.
“It works. All I can say is, it works,” said Mountain View Intermediate Assistant Principal Colette Lovell. “If I had this program when I was teaching, I feel like I could have been a much better teacher.”
LBLP provided the school district with specialized instruction to promote reading comprehension and word decoding for students and employees at East Franklin, South Macon, Iotla Valley and Cartoogechaye Elementary schools; Nantahala School, Highlands School, Mountain View Intermediate School and Macon Middle School.
After listening to moving testimony from teachers, the Board of Education unanimously voted to approve a contract for $187,500 for the reading program to be implemented next year.
“It doesn’t matter what the cost of the program is,” said Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman. “Because the price of getting a student to read is priceless.”
According to the contract, LBLP will provide Macon County with one LBLP representative to stay on-site to supervise and help implement the services. The consultant will help teachers who were trained during the first year of the reading program, while working with additional teachers who will be trained next year. The consultant services are intended to provide Macon County teachers oversight in order to utilize the resource most effectively in the classroom.
During the first year, Macon County had two on-site LBLP consultants throughout the year, but after six of the district's staff were able to receive LBLP certification, less support from LBLP is needed.
In order to fully employ the reading program for a second year, school system staff encouraged the board to approve the contract in order to prepare for summer school. Teachers interested in being trained in LBLP will go through a five day workshop.
“Being able to see the growth that these kids have had because of using this program is unbelievable,” said Macon County School employee Christy Baird. “It will being tears to your eyes on the best day you have ever had.
With too many success stories to name them all, Baird and other teachers presented school board members with preliminary data on the progress of Macon County students in the first year of LBLP.
Of the 17 students at Nantahala receiving LBLP services, 11 of those students showed improvements on the End of Grade (EOG) tests. In addition to improving their test scores, the teachers said that the students came to school excited to learn, and looked forward to classes where they were able to use the LBLP programs.
Students at Iotla Valley who received LBLP training averaged an increase of 10 points on their EOGs, while students not in the program averaged 6.1 points.
East Franklin Elementary reported that after LBLP intervention, 23 kids who did not pass the EOG the previous year, passed the test this year.
With another year, teachers and school system administrators hope to train more teachers and continue improving reading scores throughout the district.
Macon County joins petition to prevent for-profit virtual school
The Board of Education joined several other districts in the state to petition to intervene in virtual charter schools that has garnered preliminary approval in Cabarrus County.
The online-based K-12 charter school known as “N.C. Learns” is proposed to serve students across the state including those in Macon County.
N.C. Learns, which is run by a for-profit Wall Street company (K12 Inc.), is a company attempting to tap into N.C.’s public education market. On May 8, Judge Beecher Gray of the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, ruled in favor of NC Learns, and gave the school a go-ahead to open, despite the N.C. State Board of Education's disapproval of the company.
N.C. Learns would be the first virtual charter school in the state, and depending on the state appeals, the school is set to open up this fall. The controversy with the online charter school lies in the fact that students choosing to leave the realms of state run public education to attend NC Learns, will also take funding away from public education. If the charter school gets final approval before next school year it is expected to serve 2,750 students and could double its enrollment within seven years, according to the school's original application to the state. If the school meets that projected enrollment the first year, it would equal about $18 million in state funding, which would otherwise be granted to local districts based on the Average Daily Membership or ADM.
The Cabarrus County school board to backed the NC Learn proposal under an agreement that four percent of the public education dollars given to NC Learn be directed back to Cabarrus County. The preliminary approval in Cabarrus County in January marked the first time in more than a decade that a charter school went to a local school board for approval, bypassing the state board.
The company also hired a former state representative from Cabarrus County, Jeff Barnhart, to lobby the school board on behalf of the company. State Sen. Fletcher Hartsell of Cabarrus County was also hired as a lawyer to represent the non-profit.
Originally, final approval for the online charter school was left to the State Board of Education, but the state board failed to address the company's request and application before the March 15 deadline citing that previous statements made by the State Board's Chair William Harrison explaining that the state was waiting to make any decisions until more research was done on the program.
In an appeal filed on May 23, state officials are attempting to overturn the May 8 ruling to allow the charter school to open.
NC Learns is designed to recruit students from across the state to attend the publicly-funded cyber school run by a for-profit company under N.C. Learns, a non-profit organization set up to house the virtual school. The virtual school permits students to take classes from their home computers, and will loan computers to low-income children that enroll with the school.
Spotlight on People and Program
The Board of Education took time at the beginning of its May meeting to recognize teachers and students who have gone above and beyond to represent Macon County. “This is my favorite part of each of our meetings,” said Dr. Brigman. “It is always our pleasure to recognize these outstanding individuals and all of their accomplishments.”
Franklin High School Junior Holly Bullis received recognition for her acceptance to the NC Governor's School. Governor's School is a six-week residential summer program for intellectually gifted high school students in N.C.
Each summer around 800 students are hand picked from across the state to take part in programs that are housed at Salem College in Winston- Salem (known as Governor's School West, or GSW) and at Meredith College in Raleigh (known as Governor's School East, or GSE).
While at Governor's School, Bullis is looking forward to the opportunity to represent Macon County and bring the leadership and knowledge gained back to her school for her senior year.
The board also recognized three Skills USA Winners: First Place- Chelsie Daves; Second Place-Tori Dragoo; and Third Place-Cade Doolittle.
SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers, and industry working together to ensure that America has a skilled work force. The program focuses on career and technical programs that are recognized as an integral part of the classroom.
Child Nutrition Director Sherry Held and the rest of the child nutrition's staff were also recognized for their successful completion of the Coordinated Review Effort (CRE). The CRE is a strenuous process by the state to evaluate child nutrition options in public schools. The state tests efficiency, quality, and facilities, among other things, throughout the CRE process. Through the hard work of Held and the rest of the staff, Macon County scored amongst the highest in the state after the review.