Butler schools discuss progress towards students’ best opportunities

Published 7:00 am Thursday, September 28, 2023

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The Butler County Board of Education met Thursday and discussed the school system’s ongoing efforts towards students’ “best opportunities.”

LaTonya Gill, GHS assistant principal, delivered a district performance report on the school’s academic achievements and progress. Last year, the Alabama Department of Education ranked GHS as a “failing” school, labeling the high school among those which fell in the bottom 6% of schools, as measured by the percentage of students who are proficient on the standardized test taken the previous spring . 

Gill said the school has made many transitions toward improvements and even though administrators say they are not where they want to be, they have seen adequate progress. She added that the state evaluation process to be titled a failing school is not what it may outwardly seem.

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“According to the state, all you have to do is be in the lower 6% as far as performance, so if everybody had A’s and B’s in the state of Alabama there’s going be the lowest 6% of the B’s, and they will be identified on the failing school list,” Gill said. “Hopefully this year we will not be on the failing list. We’re celebrating the small things because we know the small things will lead to big things at GHS.”

GHS principal, Jamie Howard, gave a video presentation on the educational and cultural transformation that is occurring at the school.

“This year we adopted the slogan ‘POP’ which stands for the Power of Positivity,” Howard said. “There are amazing things happening at GHS. My personal goal is to bring the high school into the top 100 high schools in the state and then to the top 50, the top 25, and then the top 10. Many schools will be included on that list. My question to our students, faculty and staff and all our stakeholders is, why not Greenville High School?”

In other business, Superintendent Joseph Eiland said the final inspection for the new GHS stadium will be Oct. 2. Addressing the GHS gymnasium damage, Eiland said there they are still waiting for an adjustment that is adequate for repair costs. 

“The Department of risk management has not issued an adjustment that is adequate enough to do the repairs in the gymnasium which are extensive,” Eiland said. “We do have the architectural firm’s estimated scope of work and price of $1.4 million to replace everything that has been damaged. Our Board of risk management adjuster in his first walkthrough said $268,000.”

Eiland said he has enlisted the assistance of the representative of sales, Senator Stewart, Chief of Staff Chuck Marcum and the Chief Financial Director of state to impress upon risk management the extent of damage and repairs needed. 

“Since they raised our premiums over $100,000 for the past year that they need to step up their game, leave their building and come to Greenville High School and just look at the gymnasium themselves,” Eiland said. “If we accept the low bid of 1.4 million, we would then be liable for those expenses, which we cannot do.”

Eiland also said the board has altered the grading scale and the schools have moved to standards-based report cards in kindergarten and first grade. 

“The Literacy Act is here to stay and will have its full teeth in this spring, meaning that any third grader who is not on grade level in reading will be retained, end of story,” Eiland said.

Eiland said he is excited for the professional development that has occurred for teachers to accelerate instruction and prepare students to not only pass the test, but to be literate in reading and math. 

“It’s not about passing a test, although that’s how we score. It’s about providing children the best opportunity they can have to succeed and prosper later on,” Eiland said. “For that, I’m excited to help. That is what we’re here for.”

The 2024 Capital Improvement Plan was approved by the board. A few of the financial points include $300,000 for installation of metal detectors at Greenville High School, Georgiana High School and McKenzie High School. There is a $50,000 budget for the additions of new awnings at the Georgiana school facility. Greenville Middle School will have $900,000 for facility and land improvements, and soon a parking lot will be installed behind the gym at McKenzie High School.