‘Game on’ becomes motto for school year
SPRINGDALE — Marcia Smith, one of the assistant superintendents for instruction, asked School Board members Tuesday about situations where they hear the phrase, “Game on.”
“When there’s a challenge,” Smith said.
The phrase is the district’s motto heading into the 2017-18 school year.
“Our game is on,” Smith said. “We are going to take it to the next step.”
Smith and Kathy Morledge, also is an assistant superintendent over instruction, discussed plans for instruction for the 201718 school year during a work session with School Board members Tuesday. Morledge focuses on pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, while Smith’s focus is on sixth through 12th grade.
“For our kids to climb the staircase to educational excellence, we know bottom step is teach them all,” Morledge said.
The instructional focus for 2017-18 will continue to be developing students who
are literate and numerate, can solve problems, make good decisions and who will persevere, Morledge said.
All administrators returned to work Monday. Meetings are set next week for administrators and newly hired teachers. Teachers return Aug. 7, and students return Aug. 14.
“We’re expecting 23,000 kids,” Rollins said, a number that includes pre-kindergartners. “We know there are multiple providers in the region who are competing every day for children.”
He estimates 700 students who live in Springdale School District attend schools outside the district, Rollins said. The district will have three charter school campuses within its borders — Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville, Haas Hall Academy in Springdale and Ozark Montessori Academy. Shiloh Christian School, one of the area’s largest private schools, also is in the district.
The decision to add seventhgraders to the Tyson School of Innovation for the 2017-18 school year has resulted in 55 to 60 seventh-graders signing up for classes, Rollins said. He thinks the number will grow.
Each student attending school elsewhere is a $9,000 financial impact to the district, Rollins said. The impact of 700 students attending other schools is $6.3 million.
Rollins still thinks the district will grow by a few hundred students, but the district has to prepare to customize how instruction is provided to students, he said.
“We understand the need to grow and deepen all teachers’ insight and use of innovative practice,” Rollins said.
Deputy Superintendent Jared Cleveland shared the latest figures on student enrollment by campus, showing
22,600 current students. The district will not know exactly how many until students show up for classes.
Hellstern Middle School has more than 1,000 students, and the sixth grade is full, Cleveland said. Cleveland told School Board members discussions about attendance zones and middle school enrollment will be needed, he said.
Cleveland also is studying the competitiveness of administrator pay and contracts following the departures of some top administrators to nearby districts in recent years, he said.
Rollins also hopes for stronger student performance and said his staff is reviewing the results of the ACT Aspire, released this month.
“We’ve done pretty well in writing scores,” he said. “We have a lot of improvement.”
Each new school year comes with energy and excitement, School Board member Kathy McFetridge said.
“I’m always concerned about reaching those students that are struggling,” McFetridge said. “I wish our test scores could show how much our teachers work.”
Many children in the district are learning English and are adjusting to a different culture, Rollins said. While the district is seeing successes among Hispanic students, Rollins said reaching Marshallese students is a new frontier.
District staff have developed relationships with 14 pastors from the Marshallese community, Rollins said. The district is working to help families understand the importance of getting children to school and encouraging them to give their best effort, he said.
“We don’t want to buy into this idea that demography is destiny,” Rollins said. “We believe if we do our work really well we can help those kids be very successful.”