Students’ ACT scores impressive
The Fairfield Community School District Board of Directors set a goal a year ago to end fiscal year 2013 with $1 million in spending authority, and came close, closing the former school year out with a $996,828 unspent authorized budget balance.
“It’s definitely trending in the right direction, to be short by $3,172,” said Kim Sheets, district business manager.
The school board has been aggressive the past few years in keeping finances out of the red ink where it had been three or four years ago.
The district’s special education funds ended fiscal year 2013 with a negative balance of $489,512.
“Since this balance is negative, we can ask the [state’s] School Budget Review Committee for modified allowable growth to get back the ‘authority’ for this money that’s already been spent,” Sheets told the school board Monday.
The board approved the district requesting modified allowable growth and supplemental aid for the special education fund from the state.
In other financial news, Superintendent Art Sathoff said the district uses the Iowa Educators Consortium to purchase some services and products.
The consortium, an initiative of Iowa’s Area Education Agencies, allows for educational entities to have pooled buying power and receive lower prices.
In a brief outline of calendar year 2012 purchases through the consortium, the Fairfield district saved $9,384 on combined purchases totaling $54,634.
Sathoff also reported Fairfield High School students taking the ACT college entrance exam have outperformed Iowa’s state composite average for at least nine years.
Last year, 80 students took the test, or 60 percent of the Class of 2013.
“ACT sets benchmark scores to gauge college readiness,” said Sathoff. “Our students have a higher percentage of college readiness in each content area than the state average; 43 percent of Fairfield ACT test takers meet readiness benchmarks in all four content areas, which is 11 percent more than the state average.
“Iowa is always among the nation’s leaders in ACT scores, so outperforming the Iowa average year after year is an accomplishment,” he said.
“Our students completing biology, chemistry and physics had an average ACT science score of 29.2, which is very impressive. I don’t understand how math students’ completing Algebra I and 2, geometry, trigonometry and calculus, scores were only 20.5 when our average math score [of all FHS students] was 21.8,” said Sathoff.
“ACT is one piece of data to see how we’re doing in college preparation.”
Sathoff shared an outline of his personal goals for growth and professional development a month ago at a board meeting and with some feedback, added two more goals. Monday, he presented the plan to the board, which approved it.
“My broad goals this year are communication, student achievement, budget, facilities and community partnerships,” he said.
The school district superintendent is the only employee the school board evaluates and has responsibility and authority to hire. The board evaluates the superintendent annually in closed session. Like any other administrator and teacher, the superintendent has professional goals.
An Iowa Individual Administrator Professional Development Plan asks for specific school and district goals; leadership goals; learning goals; and indicators of progress for each; along with supports for plan implementation. Sathoff’s 2013-14 school year goals include:
• Improve — unspent balance and solvency ratio (spending authority and cash); board/superintendent communications; superintendent/administrators communications; administrators/staff communications; use data to achieve and communicate results; and successfully begin FHS project.
• Ensure effective coaching of administrative staff, situational awareness for the superintendent and flow of information to the board.
• Have a presence in district classrooms, an awareness of district curriculum/instruction/assessment practices and results, and collect/analyze and act on data.
• Continue to provide fiscal leadership and sound decision making.
• Provide input, oversight and leadership in getting FHS renovations started successfully.
• Continue to be an effective ambassador and advocate for the district within the community.
• Stay abreast of education legislation and keep the board aware of pertinent issues.
• Successfully conduct collective bargaining as district’s chief negotiator.
• Continue learning/serving as a superintendent instructional rounds trainer for AEA superintendents.
• Continue serving as an Iowa High School Music Association executive board member, supporting vocal and instrumental music in Iowa schools and learning about policies and procedures.
• Continue learning about facilities and building issues.
In other business Monday, the school board:
• Approved the 2013-14 FCSD Curriculum Development/Materials Adoption cycle for the next six years as presented by Marci Dunlap, curriculum director.
In the 2013-14 school year, curriculum for career technology, agriculture, business, family and consumer science, industrial technology, computer science and School-to-Work programs will be evaluated.
• Accepted the resignation of Brent Blakely as ninth grade assistant boys basketball coach; he resigned so he could be the seventh and eighth grades assistant boys basketball coach.
The board approved Blakely, who is a Fairfield Middle School teacher, for the position.
• Approved Cale Curoe and Tom Stone as volunteer coaches for middle school football for the 2013-14 season.
• Accepted the resignation of Rachel Schwarz as wrestling cheerleading sponsor.
• Approved Kim Funkhouser going to full-time as a special education associate at Washington Elementary School. The board also approved Jamie Stoltz to start as a special education associate at Pence Elementary School.