At last Tuesday's Roanoke City School Board meeting, the board approved a new, innovative virtual program to improve reading scores in early grades on the mandatory statewide tests.

Dr. Kim Hendon made the recommendation on behalf of the school system. Sabra Burns, Kippie Marcum, Kathy Pate and Kristie Worthy will be "virtual interventionists" for Knight-Enloe Elementary School virtual learning students who are struggling with reading. These individuals will virtually meet with students who recent data demonstrates are behind in reading skills. These four virtual interventionists will focus on the science of reading and will target specific reading skills. The targeted reading skills are phonemic awareness, letter knowledge and concepts of print, the phonemic code and the fluent, automatic reading of text.

These four retired professionals whose careers were focused in reading will share the responsibilities of not only effective reading instruction but also more reading practice for virtual students whose data demonstrates the need. This one-on-one reading intervention will occur one, two or three days a week either in 20- or 30-minute virtual meetings. The time and the number of days a child attends will be based on his/her reading data.

Research has found the need for reading skills is clear. If a child leaves third grade and is not reading proficiently, there is a 75 percent chance that child is a poor reader for his/her lifetime. Furthermore, a student not reading at his/ her grade level by the end of the third grade is four times less likely to graduate high school on time - six times less likely for students from low-income families. Reading well or not impacts a child forever.

The contract hire and approval of the program will allow the following double-prong approach: virtual students will be supported by a certified reading teacher, and on-site teachers and interventionists will have more time to attend to on-site students. Knight-Enloe will offer quality interventions to ALL students so they can become good readers, and the school can continue to educate with excellence, challenge with success and inspire learners for life.

Superintendent's report

City Schools Superintendent Chuck Marcum gave the following report to the board:

The Handley High Community Studies class was honored to have received a commendation from the Bicentennial Commission recently for doing their part to preserve the stories of AlabamaÕs people, places and history. Merredith Sears has done a great job for the past several years with this class. Chris Glass and Katie Tipton assist her with this class. Marcum said he appreciate the work of these three outstanding teachers.

All of the "Handley Family" has been consumed thinking about Nate Pike. Nate is one of the top academic students at HHS, a leader of the football and baseball teams, and most of all an outstanding young man. "It is great to see him making progress. I ask that we all continue to pray for Nate and his family in the days ahead. Members of the family have told me multiple times how much they appreciate all the thoughts and prayers," said the superintendent.

Last week, something happened that was a great example of what makes Roanoke City Schools a special place. Knight Enloe celebrated Grandparents' Day with a picnic lunch for onsite kindergarten students on Sept. 14 and 15. Each family had their own picnic table spaced apart to maintain social distancing. The tables were sanitized between families. The KES lunchroom workers provided boxed hotdog lunches for this occasion. Marcum said, "The easy thing would have been to cancel this Grandparents' Day due to COVID, but KES wanted our kindergarten students and their grandparents to get to enjoy this special day. Everyone was very complimentary about the picnic setup and atmosphere."

Marcum was honored to participate in a statewide virtual panel on Sept. 14 as part of the Alabama Works Virtual Conference. This conference was supposed to have taken place during the summer in Mobile but was canceled due to COVID-19. The panel in which Marcum participated dealt with issues involving the teacher shortage facing Alabama. This is going to be an even bigger problem due to teachers retiring due to COVID-19.

Marcum congratulated the Handley Tiger football team on their impressive 4-0 start to the 2020 season. The Tigers have defeated Randolph County High School 41-0, Beauregard 36-6, Munford 38-28 and Cleburne County 32-0. This team is fun to watch and has the potential to have a special season, he said.

Marcum has worked closely with County Superintendent John Jacobs over the past three weeks encouraging people to complete their census information. Randolph County gets an estimated $1,600 of federal money per person each year, which is $16,000 over 10 years. Much of this money comes back to schoolchildren. Roanoke City Schools was also part of a 32-county Census Bowl challenge.

Personel actions

In personnel matters, the board:

  • Approved Megan Baker as special education aide at KES, effective Sept. 23.
  • Accepted the resignation of Taylor Jones from his position as special education aide at KES, effective Sept. 9.
  • Approved paying the following Schoology lead teachers (master instructors) a stipend of $1,000, payable in two installments of $500, one in December and one in May. Funding for this will paid through ESSER: HHS - Jennifer Kirby, Jeana Combs, Leslie Seiffert, Loren Padgett and Merredith Sears; Handley Middle School - Crystal Baldwin, Jenna Treadwell, Tiffany Synychak, Summer Johnson, Mandi Greer, Lindsey Green and Melody Phillips; and KES - Jessica Hendricks, Brittany Brown, Lindsay Cole, Autumn Arnett and Rebecca Hickman
  • Approved paying mentor teacher Angie Bailey a stipend of $2,000 for providing support for two second-year teachers who have only one year of teaching experience, payable in two installments of $1,000, one in December and one in May. Funds will be disbursed to Roanoke City Schools from the Alabama Department of Education.

The board approved the following contracts:

  • Champion, Partners in Rehab to provide PT/OT as required by student IEPs per the attached contract. This contract will be effective beginning Oct. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021. Champion, Partners in Rehab will receive a fee of $85 per hour for physical therapy and $85 per hour for occupational therapy. Funding will be paid through IDEA-B, IDEA-Preschool and the general fund.
  • Jimmy McCain to provide testing and evaluation as required by student IEP.
  • A.C. Consultant and Counseling Service to provide consulting and counseling services to students within the district. A. C. Consultant and Counseling Service will receive a fee of $150 per hour for group counseling and $80 per hour for individual counseling and $50 per hour for consultations. The amount of this contract will not exceed $4,000 and will be paid from At-Risk, IDEA-B and general funds. The period of the contract will be from Oct. 1. 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021.
  • Gerald Romine beginning Oct. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021, to work at the rate of $150 per day as needed on facility projects and/or maintenance items throughout the system. Mr. Romine will assist in implementing the 2020-21 Capital Plan and assist as needed with facility/maintenance issues throughout the system. Funding will be from the general fund.
  • Approved Scott Brand and Linda Allen as substitute teachers.

Other business

In other business, the board:

  • Approved the goals and objectives for the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Approved the capital projects plan for the schools. The funding source for the projects is the Alabama State Bond Issue. The projects include new roof at KES, new roof on the HHS auditorium, renovation of HHS and a STEM research lab at HMS.
  • Approved a contract with Gulf South Metals for a new aluminum canopy system at KES at a cost of $49,000.
  • Met in executive session for just over an hour.
  • Went through a virtual board training session on parliamentary procedure with Whitney Miller Nichols of the Alabama Association of School Boards prior to the start of the regular meeting.

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