School board votes again on two proposals

Passes guided reading pilot program, Chromebooks for second graders

By Cliff McCollum
Posted 7/3/17

During the last Baldwin County Board of Education meeting on June 22, two proposals passed that were voted down at a meeting earlier on June 8, including one that would bring a guided reading pilot …

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School board votes again on two proposals

Passes guided reading pilot program, Chromebooks for second graders

Posted

During the last Baldwin County Board of Education meeting on June 22, two proposals passed that were voted down at a meeting earlier on June 8, including one that would bring a guided reading pilot program into three Baldwin County middle schools.

At the June 8 special board meeting, the guided reading pilot program and a resolution that would bring Chromebook computers into second grade classrooms across the county failed due to receiving the minimum required four votes. Board members Cecil Christenberry and David Tarwater were absent from the meeting, so no votes from board members David Cox and Tony Myrick kept the proposals from passing.

The resolution about the guided reading program funded professional development training for teachers to work on guided reading programs at three Baldwin middle schools: Bay Minette Middle School, Central Baldwin Middle School and Foley Middle School. Both Cox and Myrick voted no despite two of the three schools in the program are located in the feeder patterns they represent.

At that meeting, board members Myrick and JaNay Dawson had a heated discussion about the failure of the guided reading program’s passage.

“I’m extremely disappointed in the final vote on the guided reading pilot training and the issue with the three middle schools,” Dawson said. “These are schools that could highly benefit from such a program, and it’s discouraging to see a program that could help our kids get voted down like this.”

Myrick said that was sometimes how votes went for the board.

“You want to belittle somebody for the way you vote,” Myrick said. “I don’t ask you how you vote or why you vote. It was voted down and that’s that. I’m not asking you why you vote the way you do either, and I don’t appreciate you bringing up.”

System officials said the guided reading pilot program would help target these particular schools due to recent low test scores on the reading portion of the ACT Aspire testing.

In the 2014-2015 testing year, Bay Minette Middle School had 81.95 percent of seventh grade students test non-proficient in reading and 70.36 percent of eighth grade students test non-proficient.

67.34 percent of seventh graders and 55.82 percent of eighth graders at Central Baldwin Middle School were non-proficient in reading, while 77.77 percent of seventh graders and 66.46 percent of eighth graders at Foley Middle School came up non-proficient.

The system has already instituted a guided reading program for the county’s elementary schools that has shown improvement in those reading scores, and Baldwin County Schools Academic Dean Joyce Woodburn said at the June 8 meeting that the principals at the middle schools up for the pilot program were excited about it.

“Those middle schools principals are excited about starting those guided reading packets at their schools,” Woodburn said. “They’re willing to spend their title budgets to allocate buying the materials, so what we would be providing is the professional development. I’m disappointed it didn’t pass because it could have been a tremendous benefit to the kids in those three feeder patterns.”

At the June 22 meeting, the guided reading pilot program passed 5-2, with Cox and Myrick still voting no against it.

Cox said he voted no because he didn’t feel comfortable voting for a new initiative at this time.

“We just replaced the curriculum two years ago at the elementary level, and I don’t think we’re in a position to start adding a new initiative right now,” Cox said.

Myrick said he felt a different sort of program might prove more beneficial to helping reading test scores.

“I don’t think the people teaching them will make enough progress for those kids,” Myrick said, adding he favored a program similar to one he had seen previously where retired elementary school teacher worked one-on-one with students to try to improve their reading skills.

The board also split 5-2, with Cox and Myrick voting no, on the proposal to bring Chromebook computers into the hands of the system’s second graders.

The total cost for 3,300 computers was $1,031,910, with nearly half of the funding coming from Alabama Ahead Act appropriated funds that were specifically earmarked for classroom technology and would have been lost if not used.