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State reviews Morgan County schools

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com · 340-2432

Every three years, the state visits a local school system to make sure officials are following the rules.

Morgan County’s turn came in April in a twist that could only be bad timing. New Superintendent Bob Balch had only been in office for three months and he had a host of new central office employees following a rash of retirements.

There was some nervousness among school officials, but Balch said the monitoring went well.

Four departments didn’t receive citations: Administration/Finance, Career-Technology, Instruction and Testing
and Federal Programs (in the areas of school improvement and special education).

The school system got more than 20 citations, but the superintendent said most are minor and already corrected or will be corrected before he must file a follow-up report by June 12.

“The monitor said we did real well,” Balch said.

Balch said he wasn’t surprised with how well the new people did.

“They have been very professional, and they did well in preparing (for the state). We’ve also got some experienced people here that helped know what to expect.”

Citations

The system received the following citations:

Maintenance and Transportation — two citations that include a dislike for the routing of the buses on the Falkville campus (already changed) and the monitor wanted the system to change the way it reimburses the Transportation Department for expenses related to extracurricular activity trips.

Healthcare and Nursing — three citations. Details not available.

Secondary Education — two citations. One teacher was not highly qualified.

The school system did not document that the Building Based School Support Team made a presentation at the new-teacher orientation.

Federal Programs — three citations. An English teacher was highly qualified in another state, but not highly qualified in Alabama. A couple of English-Language-Learners received failing grades in reading despite the language barrier. An evaluation plan is needed for the migrant program.

Problems corrected.

Child Nutrition Program — one citation. A monitor did not like the way school officials post U.S. Department of Agriculture reimbursement funds on accounts receivable.

Problem changed according to recommendation.

Elementary Education — two citations. Several evaluations were unsigned or the rationale statement was not included on these evaluations.

Evaluations of some principals and assistant principals did not have signatures and dates.

Technology — nine citations. Balch did not detail every citation, but some include the school system’s technology plan not aligning well with individual schools’ technology plans, and professional development plans on technology being too general.

Technology received commendations for the scope and sequence of its kindergarten-through-eighth-grade study and because the students are being taught computer skills of the 21st century.

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