The Madison County Board of Education unanimously voted to approve new graduation requirements for seniors, effective this year.
In the special called meeting, Alicia Hunter, instructional supervisor, said due to Senate Bill 159, graduating seniors must now take a 100 question civics test in order to receive a diploma. Students must correctly answer 60 percent of the questions and are allowed to retake the test as many times necessary to reach the benchmark.
"I am positive that their teachers will make sure they are successful," Hunter said.
The test, which is Kentucky Department of Education approved, includes questions such as "Who is the father of our nation?" and "Who is Martin Luther King, Jr.?" The questions are drawn from those within a civics test administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to persons seeking to become naturalized citizens.
The testing schedule is decided by the schools, so long as they take it as a senior. Schools also will have access to find out what answers are being repeatedly missed so educators know what areas they need to spend more time teaching on. Students who have taken and passed a similar test within the previous five years are not required to take the test, per SB 159.
While Hunter had the floor, she brought the school board up to date on what county schools are doing as far as continuous classroom improvement. Starting at the kindergarten level, teachers are setting goals with their students to let them know what is expected of them by the end of the year. This goal-setting line of thinking progresses up to the senior level, with the progress being tracked and successes being celebrated.
Hunter said continuous classroom improvements helps to create a culture in schools to help them achieve other goals as well. Kids also are taking control of their goals, by tracking their progress.
"This is what happens in kindergarten, teachers are talking with kindergarteners about why we come to school. It's just so exciting to me to think about if we're doing that then, the kind of learners we're producing in Madison County all the way through," Hunter said.
In other business at the meeting:
• The board approved a total of 10 coaching positions between Madison Central and Madison Southern High Schools. Four of the positions at Central are for high school football, while Southern added four high school assistant coaches and two freshman football assistant coaches. The salaries for the new staff will be paid for by the two schools respective booster clubs.
• The board declared surplus property for several items in the maintenance and food departments. Most items will be sold in auction, but Scott Anderson, Madison County Food Service Director, said he wants to give some of the food service's items to neighboring counties.
"Some of the ovens, we can't use parts of but other districts might be able to because you can't get those parts anymore. We've had several districts ask about parts of serving lines, things like that. We would offer it to them, if anyone takes it they will come pick it up, if not, we will auction it off," Anderson said.
Some of the items include metal book shelves, magazine racks, lunch tables, broken humidifiers, pan ovens, and register stands.
• Three positions were created in Thursday's meetings. One position is for a district math teacher, another for a custodian and the last for a deputy superintendent. The custodian will float between schools, according to Superintendent David Gilliam, the district math teacher will primarily be at Foley Middle School and will float to other schools as needed. The deputy superintendent position, Gilliam said, will create a domino effect as it takes duties from other positions within the district office, making it so they can eliminate one or two positions overall.
"I want to be clear to the board and also to community, this is not going to create an increase at the district office level," Gilliam said. "What we're looking at here is some reorganization and reassignment of some folks at the district level."
Out of all of the districts in the state, Madison County ranks 3rd for administrative costs. The state average spending on administrative costs is at 23-percent, while Madison County's is at 12.
• The board approved the purchase of Executime Time & Attendance software for $101,255. Madison County schools will be the first in the state to implement the new software by Tyler Technologies.
• Gilliam will meet with community members, principals and other leaders in the community next week to discuss programming opportunities for the proposed career centers in Madison County.
The next Madison County Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. at 301 Highland Park Drive, Richmond.
Reach Kaitlyn Skovran at 624-6608; follow her on Twitter @kaitlynskovran.