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Board adds positions at Hope school

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Parents asked for ways to improve learning at Hope Elementary School, and Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. listened.

The district plans to fill four positions to address shortcomings in the district’s elementary school A-F Accountability standardized test results, which earned a D in 2011, an F in 2012 and a D in 2013.

The school board Tuesday approved these positions:

Coordinator of special education, program support and elementary dean of students, full time, administrative office.

A library assistant, part time, Hope Elementary.

Two response-to-intervention classroom instructional aides, both part time, Hope Elementary.

During a Feb. 18 public hearing, a half-dozen parents had asked the school board to bring aides back into the classroom.

Although 14 teaching assistant positions were cut in 2011, the board’s action restores three support positions. Parents asked that extra dollars be spent to help the students, and that’s what Superintendent Kathy Griffey expects these new employees to do.

Hope Elementary needs to earn at least a C for two years in a row to exit the priority school status, and Griffey said these staffing changes will help the district reach those goals.

The school is focusing on improving individual student growth and achievement in English, language arts and mathematics, Principal Lisa Smith said.

“Students are implementing changes, and focused actions are taking place,” Griffey said.

“Instructional assistants paid by Title I assist students in the lower grades and have proven effective in helping students catch up,” Griffey said. “Providing similar assistance to students in the upper grades is anticipated to also prove to be an effective strategy.”

Current Title I staff focuses on Grades K-3. Minimal support currently is offered for Grades 4-6, but the new teaching assistants will be flexible and can work with all grade levels, Griffey said.

The library assistant position requires a love of books, ability to manage students in Grades K-6, willingness to be a team player and classroom behavior-management skills.

The two instructional assistants, which will start as soon as possible, need an associate degree or a passing grade on the paraprofessional test. They will identify and support students with learning and behavior needs as part of a response-to-intervention process.

The state requires priority schools to address school climate and culture, and the new coordinator of special education, program support and elementary dean of students, expected to begin in the 2014-15 school year, will do that by:

Directing the planning, delivery, assessment and ongoing improvement of special education programs.

Overseeing student discipline for elementary students.

Coordinating positive behavior intervention and support for students in Grades K-12.

Funding for the full-time salary, which Griffey estimated to be about $38,000 annually, will come from the general fund and money currently flowing to Johnson County Special Services Cooperative.

In other personnel actions, current fourth-grade teacher Beth Newman was named math specialist, and Title I teacher Deb McIntyre was named literacy coordinator.

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