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Hochradel to lead LU-T School Board

BALTIMORE – Shaun Hochradel was unanimously selected as the new board president for the Liberty Union – Thurston School District Monday night.

He was nominated by outgoing president John Hutton who had served as board president for several years. Board member John Walter M.D. was unanimously elected vice president.

The board will continue to hold its regular monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of every month in the district office.

Superintendent Todd Osborn thanked all five board members for their service, noting that all five are Liberty Union graduates. He asked five second graders to present certicates of recognition to board members.

Senior Katelyn Shook and junior Braden Long were honored as the high school students-of-the-month. Shook, who is board member Shawn Shook’s niece, was lauded for organizing and carrying out a project to provide Christmas presents to a disabled student’s family. High school principal Matt Gallatin said Long was nominated for the honor by a record three teachers. He was praised for being a role model student.

During principals’ report, Gallatin said every student took an exam in every course in the first semester. “We need to prepare our students to assessment in the future,” he explained. Gallatin is working on next school year’s master schedule by asking students what courses they would like.

Middle school principal Tim Turner said a new media class was very successful. A new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) course for eighth graders should be available next fall. Turner said all grades levels are receiving typing instruction.

Elementary school principal Linda Rainey said fourth graders have been researching a Baltimore ordinance banning urban chickens. The students are working on a survey about urban chickens and have written letters about the subject. They have discussed the issue with Baltimore’s Planning and Zoning Commission and will participate in a public hearing sponsored by the Commission on March 10. Rainey added that she recently ate lunch with four students that have each read 14,000 pages since the beginning of the school year.

Board members unanimously agreed to recognize middle school baseball and softball as club sports. The teams will participate in the Mid-State League with volunteer coaches. Players will pay a $90 participation fee with parents responsible for transportation. “Show us you can maintain this program first,” Osborn explained. The athletic boosters are considering purchasing uniforms for the new teams.

Curriculum coordinator Jennifer Blackstone told board member that she expects good results when the state department of education issues the first three parts of the district report cards Thursday. The first reports cover:

• K-3: Literacy. All kindergarten students take a diagnostic test. Students failing or just marginally passing the test get additional help.

• Graduation rate is calculated at four and five years; and

• Prepare for Success which looks at how the Class of 2013 was prepared for college and careers.

These three areas were not affected by the new tests that were introduced last year.

Blackstone said February 25 is the tentative release date for the balance of the evaluation factors, covering 36 items. First is how many students passed a specific test. The Performance Index looks at every student, including those that weren’t tested. Gap Closing evaluates the progress of subgroups of students. Progress tracks whether all students are progressing even if they aren’t passing the tests.

Blackstone said this report card won’t have any negative consequences for teachers or school districts since last year was the first year for these tests.

Osborn presented the proposed 2016-2017 school calendar at a hearing before the regular meeting. No one showed up for the hearing. The board will consider the calendar at their February meeting.

Osborn explained that teachers wanted to finish the school year by Memorial Day and retain Good Friday as holiday. He said the calendar may have to be adjusted when the district receives its “testing window” from the state.

Calendar highlights are:

• Aug. 17: First day for students.

• Professional Development days (no school) are set for Sept. 26, Feb. 17 and March 17.

• County Fair (no school): Oct. 10 – 14.

• Thanksgiving break: Nov. 23 -25.

• Christmas break: Dec. 23 – Jan. 3.

• MLK Day: Jan. 16.

• Presidents Day: Feb. 20

• Spring Break (includes Good Friday): April 13 – 18.

• Last day for students: May 25.

• Graduation: TBA

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