The Altus Public Schools Board of Education held its monthly meeting 5 p.m. Thursday in the board conference room at the administrative center.
In attendance were APS Superintendent Roger Hill, board President Stephen Barnett, Altus Air Force Base Ex-Offico Col. Lance Whitfill — who replaces Col. Terri Jones — and board members Dr. John Thomas and James Patterson. Also present was clerk of the board and business manager Karen Sanchez. Members Kelley Duncan and Deborah Phillips were not in attendance.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Hill addressed the superintendent’s reports and comments portion of the board meeting beginning with the start of 2016-17 school year.
“I’m really pleased with the effort that has occurred this week and really prior to that as well with the planning and organization that has occurred in particular with the transition from grade schools to grade centers,” Hill said. “There have been a lot of unknowns and a lot of moving parts and I would say things have gone relatively well. I really appreciate the effort, leadership, and the good attitudes that our staff has. The effort that is being given by our staff has been tremendous by helping our kids and being a welcoming part of it, everything has gone very well.”
In addition to the beginning of the school year being an overall success, early numbers show APS enrollment at 3,462 students, down only 32 students from last year, which is a step in the right direction where previous years are concerned — 280 students lost in 2014.
Pre-k classes at the Altus Early Childhood Center have been reported as 19-23 students per class with Kindergarten classes having anywhere between 19-25 students.
First-grade classes at Altus Primary School have been reported as 24-26 students per class while second-grade classes have anywhere between 22-25 students per class.
And third-grade classes at Altus Elementary School are seeing about 23 – 27 students per class while fourth-grade classes are seeing 23 – 27 students per class.
“I’m very pleased with those numbers all-in-all, the other point I’d like to you is that when selling the concept of grade centers, it is easier to balance classes,” Hill said. “We have seen more balance across the board than what we have had in the past with the elementary schools. All-in-all I’m very pleased and looking forward to a very good school year. There’s a lot of excitement and anticipation and we’re very blessed with a very talented and gifted administrative staff in this building and throughout the district.”
Hill also touched on the initial state aid allocation and projected budget cuts, mentioning the decrease of per pupil funding of $29.40.
“We anticipated we were going to get cut significantly due to our weighted ADM,” Hill said. “It’s very important to note that our weighted ADM between the two years 2015 and 2016 is actually higher in 2016. Our weighted ADM is $5,560.68, which is slightly more and good news because we get to use that number next year as well. If you’ll remember, we lost 280 students during 2014 and you can see how that affected 2015 and so forth. That was the biggest factor in why our state aid allocation was down significantly. With that said, I would also like to say that we received our revised allocation this week and it is actually up $22,243 to $11,311,940. Keep in mind, last year our state experienced two state revenue failures. Just because we received an allocation number does not mean that that is actually the amount of money the school district is going to receive. It is not in the bank yet.”
Once Hill closed out his comments, the board moved on to approve or not approve claims and a list of other items, including: Submitted board minutes from the July 11 meeting, monthly reports, the Vernon Dr. Pepper Bottling Inc. contracts, the Windy Trails and Greens of Altus golf course contracts, and sanctioning of parent organizations among other items.
All items were approved before moving on to the approval of revisions to the School Bus Transportation and Requirements for Graduation policies as well as the termination of the School Choice Registration policy.
Although revisions made to the School Bus Transportation policy were minimal, a few changes have taken place in the form of two additional bus stop locations and the deletion of four bus stop locations as well as a few minor changes to some of the routes.
As for the Requirements for Graduation policy, the biggest change was the elimination of the End of Instruction exams, but there were also some smaller changes for students graduating after July 1, 2018.
Also, due to the transition to grade centers, the School Choice Registration policy was terminated.
The board then approved the resignation of two employees, counselor Judy Morgan and special education aide Lavern Earls, although Thomas did so reluctantly.
“I’ll make a motion that we approve these resignations with one caveat,” Thomas said. “Judy Morgan has 39 years of service with Altus Public Schools and I don’t know how many Zack had. I always make these motions reluctantly when we lose someone like Judy, but these have to be accepted so I’ll make the motion.”
The board approved the reassignment of several positions including Jaclyn Bull from the fifth-grade to a sixth-grade counselor.
The board also approved three new hires including Rachel Beckner as a fourth-grade teacher at Altus Elementary School, Esther Reyes to instructional coach, and Ricky Bull as an eight-hour bus driver.
The District Employee of the Month recognition program was approved for the 2016-17 school year, along with the stipends for 2016-17 Building Teachers of the Year and District Teacher of the Year awards.
A list of items to be declared as surplus and sold to the public was approved before the board voted to adjourn the meeting.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.