Education

Webb praises team effort tied to school start

Quincy School Board members Shelley Arns, left, and Richard McNay look at a proposed new human relatiions webpage during Wednesday night's meeting. The new page will provide a variety of information about the district and the Quincy community to prospective employees. | H-W Photo/Deborah Gertz Husar
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 29, 2018 10:15 pm Updated: Aug. 29, 2018 11:13 pm

QUINCY -- Quincy Public Schools Superintendent Roy Webb praised everyone involved in the successful start to a school year of "unprecedented change" not just for Quincy, but for any school district.

"We have new schools, new staff, new boundaries, new routes. Nobody had done this before that we could find," Webb said at Wednesday's Quincy School Board meeting. "Everyone involved did an excellent job. They executed extremely well the start of this school year."

Board member Carol Nichols praised the transportation department for its work to bus K-5 students to new buildings and new learning communities.

"Every day it's better and better," Nichols said. "We should really say something about how well they've done, how much time and effort."

A typical year requires helping kindergarten students become familiar with their bus routes and drivers, but "this year all our 3,000 elementary kids didn't know their route, didn't know their bus driver. It was a monumental task," Webb said.

"We knew, and we've been telling the community there were going to be delays, going to be challenges with this," he said. "We still have challenges. We're still a bit behind, but we're working through that."

Webb said QPS staff created an outstanding plan to start the school year.

"Every director, every area have worked extremely hard at putting together an amazing opportunity for our kids," he said. "I'm extremely proud of our team. The board should be, and the community should be, as well."

Also Wednesday, board members approved the 2018 West Central Region, Quincy Area Vocational Technical Center and Quincy Special Education Association budgets after a public hearing. The board will wait until next month to adopt the 2018-19 School District budget.

"We normally don't approve it until September," Chief of Business Operations Ryan Whicker said.

Changes in the proposed budget will be highlighted in September, and the public hearing will reconvene, with Whicker saying there could be more changes than in past years.

Whicker presented the tentative budget in July, a month earlier than usual, at the request of Webb, who said he's used to presenting a budget in June and passing it in July because the fiscal year starts July 1.

Some information still is not available from the state, and "simply because it was presented a month earlier, there was a month of less accurate data going in," Whicker said, and even with changes, "I don't anticipate the budget being not balanced."

The tentative budget calls for revenue of $61.546 million and expenses of $61.382 million in the education, operations and maintenance, transportation, and working cash funds -- the district's four key operating funds.

The district finished the past fiscal year with a surplus in all operating funds, including $3.3 million in the education fund.

OTHER ACTION

The board adopted a Curriculum Committee recommendation for new grading practices at Quincy Junior High School that will shift from 80 percent performance/20 percent practice to 60/40 and look beyond letter grades to a student's habits of success.

Along with the traditional A through F letter grades, QJHS report cards this year will score students on a number scale for how well they complete assignments, with attention to quality and punctuality; respectful behavior toward peers and school staff; engagement in the classroom learning environment; and outward signs of responsibility, initiative and perseverance.

Board members got an update from the Human Relations Committee on the before- and after-school child care program, which has maxed out at each of the K-5 learning communities.

The board reviewed a planned new human relations webpage that includes information about job openings, the new K-5 schools, housing and living in Quincy, and pay and benefits for prospective employees.

The board agreed to pilot the Discovery Education Social Studies Techbook at QJHS for six months.

May/June policy updates provided by the Policy Reference Education Subscription Service were tabled for a month.

The board affirmed the superintendent's decision on a policy grievance filed by Brandy Neiswender.

The district investigated several items raised by Neiswender about the multitier system of support for students in English language arts and math, as well as the impact of those supports, or interventions provided to K-12 students, on special education.

"We found it to be not a valid complaint. She's appealing that ruling," Webb said.

Board members Mike Troup and Shelley Arns reviewed documentation of the grievance and "could not find anything to add or to change," Troup said.

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