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Covington Schools to Have Largest "Ron Clark" Program in Country

Covington Independent Public Schools will have the largest implementation of nationally renowned educator Ron Clark's program in the nation, it was announced during Thursday's school board meeting. An anonymous donor will allow the district to train ten more teachers in the program that aims to create creative and innovative learning styles modeled after Clark's own method that garnered him national attention and inspired a television movie. Clark visited Covington during the previous school year. Five teachers at Glenn O. Swing Elementary and five more at Holmes Middle School will receive the training and Ron Clark Academy educator Adam Dovico, through funding provided by the anonymous donor, will oversee the implementation to gauge if the program is working. Dovico is the school implementation specialist at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta.
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Three Covington teachers already trained in the method spoke highly of the program during the meeting with one saying it changed her life and helped her students gain confidence. Board member Krista Powers applauded the news. "What the students do spreads to all the other classrooms even if the teachers haven't had the training. I can see this raising the bar across the district," Powers said. Classrooms will be transformed into the Ron Clark style with interesting paint colors and with students and teachers encouraged to use music and to stand on chairs and tables to speak. Additional funding for the expanded program will come from the district's Titie II funds which must be spent on teacher development. One goal of the district is that CIPS could become a destination for other teachers seeking the Ron Clark training instead of traveling to Atlanta for it.
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Dovico wrote in a letter, "We hope to examine the impact of our educator training program by for the first time coming into your classrooms! I will be visiting each of your classrooms in September for approximately thirty minutes. During this time I will be as discreet as possible and I would like you to go about your normal teaching style and lessons. You do not need to create anything special for the visit nor do you need to acknowledge me during the lessons." The district will be featured on the Ron Clark Academy website.
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Drug testing of students still on the table
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District administrator Janice Wilkerson presented the results of an online survey and a parent focus group to gauge public interest in mandatory drug-testing for students involved in extracurricular activities. 134 people responded to the online survey with nearly half in favor or strongly in favor of the drug testing. The board will move forward in pursuing the proposed testing and a report will made available by the end of this month that will outline possible costs associated with the move. Superintendent Lynda Jackson wants to see an educational component integrated into the program. "You need to have an ongoing educational component with research and evidence-based elements and that is something we have to delve into," Jackson said. 
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Enrollment increase prompts hiring of two new teachers
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"Historically, we lost a hundred kids for ten years until the last two years," said district administrator Bill Greine, noting that there are a hundred new students this year with the largest influx happening at John G. Carlisle Elementary School where Thursday's meeting took place. In the spring, the School Board approved hiring new teachers and in order to pay for them, Superintendent Jackson outlines areas in the budget where cuts could be made to achieve the roughly $138,000 needed. The district will reduce its allotment for travel and conferences, it will delay replacing some buses, and will also cut the superintendent's budget. "I didn't want anyone else to bleed without me bleeding also," Jackson said. A large chunk of funding for the new teachers will come from a Teach for America grant and Title II funds.
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Sale of Bonds approved to finance Phase III improvements to Holmes High School
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The board unanimously voted to sell bonds as approved by the Covington Finance Corporation to finance the construction costs of Phase III improvements at Holmes High School. The board also accepted the bid of Cincinnati-based Graybach Construction to complete the work.