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Parents Take Questions About Holmes Staffing to Board of Education

Many of the same questions raised at a Holmes High School site-based decision making council meeting this week resurfaced at the Covington Board of Education meeting on Thursday night.

Much of the concern expressed by parents centered around rumors about teachers not being asked to return for the next school year. A meeting at Holmes on Tuesday had a heavy focus on whether vocational programs were being cut.

Attorney Mary Ann Stewart explained that the school board does not have the authority to make specific personnel decisions within individual schools. It was said that a special meeting has been scheduled for May 14 at Holmes where Principal Scott Hornblower is expected to clarify the questions concerning teacher cuts, if any are to occur.

“Issues of curriculum are made by the site-based Council and the board can't get involved with that. Nor can the board get involved with personnel decisions under Kentucky statute. The Board can get involved with setting policies district-wide, but the board cannot get involved with personnel decisions,” Stewart said.

Other concerns raised by parents centered around code of conduct policies including the use of cell phones for students and restricted restroom access.

One parent explained how it's important that her child have access to her cell phone in the event that she might be running late to pick her child up from school. She also said that according to the policies, students are only able to use the restroom during transition times between classes, but not during lunch time. She said that her daughter has a doctor's note that permits her to use the restroom whenever she needs to for medical reasons, but that her daughter is prevented from going to the restroom except for during the transition times.

Other notes:

The Teacher Retention Committee made its recommendations to the board on ways to better retain teachers and other staff at the school district. The Committee represents various schools and grade ranges.

Among the recommendations was more time for school leaders to give non-evaluative feedback to teachers in order to build confidence in their teaching practices. Also recommended were district-wide grade-level teacher meetings that could go over content area similarities and differences. More common planning time in a teacher's day and teacher's creating their own meeting agenda were also recommended. The last recommendation was that of more staff diversity to better represent the student population that exists within the district.

It was suggested that the district should do better with recruitment of minorities to add to its teacher roster to better reflect the student population.

An early-learning educational program called Footsteps 2 Brilliance was showcased as a possible purchase for the district to better prepare pre-kindergarten students with literacy and other educational skills. While the features highlighted at the meeting were for Pre-K students, the program has resources for students as old as third grade.

A pre-kindergarten student from James E. Biggs Early Childhood Education Center demonstrated the ease of the program by playing a rhyming game and reading “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” in both English and Spanish. The advantages for the program is the analytic data it would provide to educators about the use of the program, the times when it's used and, thanks to separate log-ins for students and parents, if parents are engaging with their child when using the program.

The program can be easily loaded on to mobile devices and logs sessions when used in a WiFi environment. Drawbacks of the program include those families that are excluded from the program due to not owning a usable mobile device or not having access to a WiFi environment. Another potential problem with obtaining the program is more solo screen time for children rather than having a parent engaged with their child's learning experience.   

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor

Photo: Covington Board of Education meets on Thursday (RCN)