The board also approved the $101,448 Measures of Academic Progress test, which will be given to students next year in place of four tests students took this past one.
An agreement with the city to install 10 stop arm bus cameras on school buses was also approved.
The overall school district budget balances revenues and expenses at $81.8 million, which is an increase of $4.1 million, or 5.3 percent, over last year.
Board Chair Randy Weiner commended Superintendent Emily Lembeck and her staff for a budget that didn’t cut work days or increase class sizes. Weiner also said he’d like to re-examine an increase in teacher pay mid-year if the budget allows for one.
Lembeck said that shouldn’t be a problem.
The only reduction in staff due to the budget will be in first-grade classrooms, where teachers will be losing all nine paraprofessionals.
The nine will be replaced by four literacy coaches for each of the schools. Lembeck said the coaches will provide increased support to teachers to ensure that all students are reading by third grade.
New test to replace three others
The board agreed to swap out three existing tests administered to students with a new test called the MAP test.
The MAP test will replace the IOWA, STAR reading, math and early literacy and GRASP tests.
Funding for the current tests will help pay for the new $101,000 test for students in kindergarten through 10th grades.
The district is making the change to reduce the number of tests students take each year.
“This will allow them to teach more and test less, right?” Weiner asked Beth Ogletree with the district’s curriculum and instruction department.
“Yes,” she replied. “This is a very valid and reliable measure for our students.”
MAP is a norm-based test, which means it will allow the district to compare scores to other students and districts across the nation. It will be taken online three times a year.
Ogletree said results will be turned around in less than 24 hours for teachers to review, which will help improve student growth in the classroom.
Last year, about 5 million students in 13,000 schools, 2,700 school districts and all 50 states took the MAP test.
Stop-arm bus cameras coming to Marietta
The board also approved an agreement with the city to allow American Traffic Solutions out of Arizona to install and monitor stop arm cameras on 10 school buses.
The district keeps a record of which bus routes have the highest number of motorists who fail to stop when a bus’ stop sign is displayed. The cameras will be installed on buses that use routes with the highest number of violations, said the district’s director of maintenance and operations, Danny Smith.
The vendor will get 75 percent of profits from violators’ tickets and the city and school district will split the other 25 percent 60/40, with the district getting 40.
The agreement was opposed by board members Tony Fasola and Brett Bittner, who both requested more data on current violations before making a decision.
“The safety of the students is important but will this be a deterrent for other violators?” Bittner questioned.
Fasola echoed his concern, saying that he wasn’t sure stop arm cameras are the best way to resolve problems with violators.
• No furlough days, increased class sizes, tax hikes, program cuts or shortened school year
• Eliminates nine first-grade paraprofessionals to add four literacy coaches
• Continues Air Force-JROTC funding lost in federal sequestration
• Funds a portion of Mentoring for Leadership Program no longer provided through Title I federal funding
• Increases out-of-district student tuition