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Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - December 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company

Improving TISD test scores is priority
Trinity Standard -

TRINITY – Working to improve scores on state mandated tests will be a top priority for the Trinity school system during the coming months, according to Superintendent David Plymale. During Monday’s meeting of the Trinity School Board, Plymale gave a “State of the District” presentation outlining where the Trinity Independent School District currently stands in terms of enrollment, attendance and accountability. Plymale noted that currently, local scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test are trailing state averages in almost every category and grade level and that work is underway to bring the local scores up. As part of the presentation, the superintendent released the annual Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) reports, which are based on information collected during the 2009-2010 school year. As was previously announced when the 2010 TAKS test results were announced, all four of the TISD campuses earned an academically acceptable rating from the state. However, when all the scores are grouped together, the district as a whole has now been listed as academically unacceptable. According to the AEIS information presented by Plymale, the local scores fell below state minimum levels in math for grades four, five, seven, eight, nine and 10. The school district also fell short in of the minimum scores set in science for grades eight and 10. In addition, the reading scores for grades seven, eight and 10 fell short of the minimum standards. The school district did score above minimums across the board in both social studies and writing and the 11th grade math score of 93 percent passing exceeded the statewide average of 89 percent. Plymale noted most of the local scores were above the state minimums and fell into the “acceptable” level and some climbed into the higher “recognized” and “exemplary” ranges. Reaching the exemplary level with scores of 90 percent passing or higher were the 11th grade math and the 8th and 11th grade social studies scores. Those that fell in the recognized range of from 80 to 90 percent passing included the reading/English language arts (ELA) scores for the 3rd, 6th and 11th grades, the science score for the 11th grade and the writing scores for the 4th and 7th grades. As part of his report, Plymale outlined a number of “strategies” that have or will be used to address the low scores, including using outside math and science consultants to help in those low performing areas. The superintendent said that additional training will be provided to local teachers and higher expectations will be placed on student performance. Previously, Plymale also has noted that tutoring efforts have been increased and that as soon as possible, individual students who are identified as having trouble in a particular academic area are directed to programs to help them in that area. Plymale currently is in his first year as the TISD superintendent and was hired by the school board this past summer to help correct some of the deficiencies that were expected on this year’s AEIS report from the state. As part of his State of the District report, Plymale also noted that in the past, the district has earned “superior achievement” ratings on its financial accountability report from the state. “That’s the highest rating that you can earn, but don’t expect it next year. Being listed as academically unacceptable is an automatic hit to that rating,” he explained. In the area of finance, Plymale also addressed issues facing the district that are arising from the state’s budget deficit. He noted the state currently is facing a $25 billion budget shortfall for the coming biennium and that $3-5 billion of that will fall in its education spending. The superintendent warned that state money coming to local districts will drop significantly during the coming two years. Among the strategies Plymale outlines to help in the area of finance is to forge closer relationships with elected state officials in an effort to have a higher priority placed on education. Among the areas that could be addressed are the “funding inequities” created by the current formula used by the state to distribute money to school districts. He noted that under that formula, school districts such as Trinity are being shortchanged by as much as $5 million per year. Also included in his report were the current enrollment and attendance figures for the district. Enrollment for the district was listed at 1,203, up from 1,186 last year. The breakdown by campus includes: Lansberry Elementary, 558,up from 547; Trinity Intermediate, 174, up from 173; Trinity Middle School, 179, up from 169; and Trinity High School, 292, down from 297. Attendance figures for the district also were up across the board. Lansberry’s was 97.15 percent, up from 94.18 percent last year; Trinity Intermediate was 97.77, up from 94.96; Trinity Middle School was 96.85, up from 93.48 last year; and Trinity High School was 95.44, up from 93.48 last year. Audit report During the meeting, representatives of the accounting firm of Belt Harris Pechacek presented the annual audit report of the district’s 2009-2010 finances. The auditors presented a “clean opinion,” which is the highest level the district could achieve. They found no material weaknesses in the district’s financial reporting procedures and reports. They noted that during the year the district had almost $9 million in both income and expenses and ended the year with a $2.56 million fund balance. They noted that this is enough money to operate the district from 3.4 months. The auditor noted that the Texas Education Agency recommends school districts maintain a fund balance large enough to operate their district from between two to three months. “You actually have more than they recommend and that is a good thing,” the auditor said. Other business During the meeting, the board also: • Met with their attorney in closed session to discuss a possible settlement to a lawsuit involving a traffic accident that involved a school bus. The accident occurred in February 2009 in the Lake L Acres subdivision and involved a pickup driven by Thomas Turner. In open session, the board voted to approve an offer to settle the lawsuit, but details of the offer were not made public pending negotiations with Turner and his representatives. • Voted to hire Kirk Krim as the district’s new director of operations. • Voted to hire Kimberly Hoogendorn as a high school math teacher, pending her receiving her certification. They also voted not to released Denise Hagee, the current math teacher, from her contract until a certified teacher can be hired.

 

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