By Rosemary K. Otzman
Keystone Academy Principal Keturah Godfrey received three National Heritage Academy awards for her school at the Sept. 11 school board meeting.
School Board President Vesta Losen presented the awards and noted that 34 schools of the 76 NHA charter schools nationwide received either an Eagle Award and/or a School of Excellence Award – and Keystone got three: two Eagle Awards and the top School of Excellence prize for being a Three-Star School.
The School of Excellence is for superior performance in academic achievement and full enrollment for the 2012-13 school year, the highest honor. Of the 76 total schools run by NHA, Keystone is one of eight getting the Three-Star designation. There are no Four-Star schools.
“We’re incredibly proud of the honors,” Godfrey told the board.
The Eagle Awards were for Student Enrollment (outstanding count day enrollment and average daily membership results at or above the 90th percentile) and Student Growth (at or above the 90th percentile for blended fall-to-spring and spring-to-spring growth on the NWEA assessment in grades K-8).
In other business at the 45-minute Sept. 11 meeting, the board:
• Was told Principal Godfrey will send weekly news and notes to all board members, as well as the monthly newsletter;
• Heard a report on the Keystone Board Satisfaction Survey from NHA representative Chris Caulk. He said the survey showed no one is using the board portal because they can’t create their own password and have to use a password that is hard to remember. He said NHA is working on getting that changed. He said there were board survey comments on financial oversight, understanding the roles, and common core;
• Heard Godfrey give a report on bullying, saying there were not that many instances. She said two infractions against the same person is considered bullying. “We’re really swift in taking action and not tolerant of that,” Godfrey said;
• Heard comments on the Annual Education Report, a comprehensive report on the data that is available on the website. Godfrey said there were 100% at parent-teacher conferences and very few were done by phone. There is a real effort to confer with every parent, she said. Godfrey said remembered when she was a fourth-grade teacher and she jumped in a parent’s car to complete the conference as the parent drove through the loop to exit the school grounds; and
• Passed a resolution on teacher evaluation and employee certification, with Caulk reporting the state requires one formal teacher evaluation a year, but NHA requires two formal evaluations. Godfrey said at Keystone there is evaluation done weekly.
At its Aug. 14 meeting, the board:
• Heard Godfrey say she was disappointed in the Voice of Parents survey that usually had near 100% participation and this year just 683 of 786 filled out the surveys. She said the timing was terrible, being handed out just before spring break, so the school couldn’t “bug” the students to get the surveys done. She said most of the results were “highly satisfied” and “satisfied.” Sixty-five percent were highly satisfied and 96% were the combined “satisfied” and “highly satisfied”. Caulk of NHA said the average for all NHA schools was 57% and Keystone’s scores were outstanding;
• Voted to cover $9,000 out of the $15,000 in coaching stipends for the coming school year. Other costs of sports are covered by the $40 sport pay-to-play fee parents are asked to contribute and some general fundraising. The $9,000 is out of the board’s discretionary fund. Athletic Director Katie Hamilton presented the request;
• Heard Principal Godfrey announce the 12 changes in staff assignments for the coming year. Some are new teachers and some are reassignments. She said there is a new level of energy on the staff and it is “incredibly positive.” Changing roles are Heather Peters, Michelle McNulty, Cindy Chuang, and Jackie Fincher. New hires for new positions are Marilyn Rivera, at-risk social worker, and Melanie Herman, math specialist. New hires to fill vacancies are Sara Burden, sixth grade ELA; Lauran Despres, sixth grade social studies; Jill Cannon, seventh grade ELA; Ellen Poole, seventh-grade mathematics; and Christina Piotrowski, technology. They had an offer out for the fifth grade teacher’s position vacant after Laura Green took a position with a traditional school. (That fifth-grade position was finally filled by Melanie Herman, the school’s part-time math specialist, and her part-time position will be filled);
• Heard board treasurer Carol Manley say some young students have problems with change and so she was concerned about introducing students to their fall teachers in the spring. Godfrey agreed, saying they would not do that next year because of possible changes in the summer over which they have no control;
• Changed the practices and procedures in the Admission and Enrollment Policy as requested by NHA. Board President Losen said when Keystone started, it was for grades 1-5, and her youngest grandchild was in the sixth grade, and couldn’t come to Keystone. Now, a great-grandchild is about to enter school and there is no selection preference for grandchildren of board members, only preference for children of board members. The NHA representative looked into it and found Losen is correct, there is no preference for grandchildren of board members;
• Heard Godfrey announce results of the ACT Explore test given to all eighth grade students. She said the percent of 3+ year students meeting college academic readiness thresholds are: 62% Math, 83% English; and 70% Reading; and
• Heard Patrick Victor, Director of Field Operations from Keystone’s authorizer, Bay Mills Community College, who presented the 2013-14 annual report, showing Keystone to be in compliance academically and financially.
By Rosemary K. Otzman