“These are needed changes; kids who go to school here deserve a quality education and place to attend school,” Asbury Alternative School Principal Ted Shiver told the Times-News on Tuesday.
“Morale goes up for both (students and faculty) when it’s shown that we do care about them; this is a positive move for Lincoln County schools.”
Schools Executive Director of Facilities Darrell Gettys presented the Board of Education Building and Site Committee with dollar numbers, blue prints and a clear idea of what he and architect Randy Baker came up with to that point.
Asbury Alternative has been the topic of discussion at the Lincoln County Board of Education and its Building and Site Committee meetings in recent months, as school officials decide the appropriate course of action to take with renovating the facility — an issue that continues to have the members divided.
The plan that was presented this week is to take down the old cafeteria building on site, relocate the two mobile units, build the 14,000-square feet-facility and renovate the existing classrooms in the current structure, Gettys said.
Gettys and Baker plan to finance the changes through a grant issued in 2007 with set dollars for Asbury and projects there.
The duo reported they would be using a $2 million budget, and will use the remaining $110,000 for other renovations, including fixing up current rooms, parking lot maintenance and possibly converting a current classroom to a media center — a resource the students are currently without. A science lab, space for a commons area and an Exceptional Children classroom are among the alterations the school’s staff is looking forward to.
“With the model they’ve put out, the multi-purpose room will be a big bonus — art and physical education are hands on, positive things for kids,” Shiver said. “For us, anything that offers hands-on learning is a bonus.”
Board members Bob Silver and George Dellinger were vocal about liking the prints of the additions and the work Gettys and his team have done so far.
“This is something we’ve needed for a long time; we need to use the money appropriated and do it right,” Dellinger told the committee.
He later made a motion to accept the materials presented and to continue moving forward, which was approved, though board member Clayton Mullis dissented and voted against the majority.
Mullis and a few other board members have visited the school in recent months and continue to report positive experiences there, though Mullis remains hesitant about the urgency of putting the funds into the school at this time.
Recent staffing changes to fill open positions of retired former-employees have put a different kind of energy in the air at Asbury, and makes the faculty happy to be there, Shiver said, pointing to teachers like Tammy Sigler-Delauter.
Currently, she teaches science to seventh- through 12th-graders at the alternative school in a classroom that was intended for elementary school students. She is currently without basic lab equipment, but makes due with resources she has available.
Last week, her students were learning about the colors in the electromagnetic spectrum. Rather than demonstrating the colors different chemicals turn when heated on a Bunsen burner, she improvised with a candle, to ensure her students still had a visual element to go with the lesson.
She can’t wait for the new science lab.
“I think it’s a great change; a new lab will allow me to teach science the way it’s supposed to be taught,” Delauter said. “I’m very excited about this.”
A six- to seven-month timeframe is estimated for completion of the project — a deadline that has school officials hopeful for a fall opening date, weather and other conditions permitting.
Other items discussed Monday night:
A plan based on achievement and three additional goals — an accountability plan — which alternative schools in the state must adopt and utilize, was presented by Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Elaine Boysworth on behalf of Asbury Alternative.
The addition of at least three volunteers, decreasing the number of out-of-school suspensions by five percent and increasing the number of students promoted by three percent, are the targets for this school year.
Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee Bob Silver opened the floor for discussion of ways to keep teachers in Lincoln County through incentives based on merit. The group agreed to set up a meeting with state and local officials at the beginning of 2013 to discuss options for how to compete with the higher salaries of teachers in neighboring counties.
The Policy Committee voted in favor of keeping students in school for 180 days, totaling 1,080 hours of instructional time, next school year in response to a calendar bill that was passed in July. The legislation says students must receive a minimum of 185 days or 1,025 hours of instruction over a nine-month period. In addition, the changes also include restrictions setting Aug. 26 as the earliest start date and June 11 as the latest ending date for students in the 2013-2014 school year.
Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Matt Stover said he is comfortable staying with the current calendar (180 days). Through research and his meetings with the calendar committee and local principals, Stover said he found that increasing the number of days wasn’t pertinent to student achievement.