BY DAVID FISHER
DRESDEN (April 14) — During Thursday night’s meeting of the Weakley County School Board, top agenda items included school board policies dealing with revising the grading system and determining class ranking. These changes are intended to better reflect the scholastic aptitude and academic achievements of students to improve their chances for college acceptance, financial aid and scholarships.
The grading system changes will make it possible for students to earn GPAs higher than 4.0, and revisions to the method for determining class ranking may result in there being more than one valedictorian and salutatorian among graduating seniors.
The board approved the second and final reading of a revised School Board policy, addressing grade point averages (GPA) for high school students.
The county’s revised policy amends the grading system, so students are no longer limited to a maximum of 4.0 GPA reported on transcripts.
The change allows students who take honors, dual enrollment, and AP classes to garner additional points and earn what is referred to as a “weighted GPA,” which would be recorded, along with the regular GPA, on students’ transcripts.
While report cards will still reflect grades of 0 to 100, the weighted GPA is used to calculate final grades. For example, grades of A are 4 points; B’s are 3 points; C’s are 2 points; D’s are 1 point and F’s are 0. A student making a B in Honors English would get 3 points, plus an additional 0.5 because the class is an honors class.
Previously, a senior could only receive as high as a 4.0 on a transcript of academic achievement. The policy change allows students to accumulate points that exceed 4.0. When colleges and universities are looking at transcripts, a 4.17 or 4.30 etc. is much more impressive and could translate into more scholarships.
Several school systems in the area already utilize weighted GPAs because they take into account the course difficulty. In general, they operate on a 0 to 5.0 scale.
The use of weighted GPAs allows for moving away from the limited “Top Ten” focus to a broader opportunity for students.
A policy change, addressing class ranking, received unanimous board approval.
Director of Schools Randy Frazier stated the revised policy increases the chances of the class of 2024 (current freshmen) to qualify as Weakley Scholars or School Level Scholars.
Weakley Scholars will be determined using a formula that combines the weighted GPA and an ACT score of 21 or higher and nets a “super score” of 1,700 or more. The change will allow for multiple valedictorians in a single class, and thereby open up multiple scholarship opportunities from schools seeking to reward academic excellence.
Charger Scholars, Bulldog Scholars, Jacket Scholars and Lion Scholars will be students who have achieved the salutatorian level by earning a “super score” of 1,550, and an ACT score of 21 or higher.
The opportunity to acknowledge multiple scholars allows for the possibility of multiple scholarships.
ESSER 2.0 Budget
The board approved the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund Budget totaling $3,871,148.56, which was approved by the U.S. Congress, to provide financial support for districts and schools.
Weakley County’s ESSER budget indicates how school administrators plan to utilize the monies.
Items under consideration are the purchase of much-needed replacements for older computers and facility improvements.
Funding for the regular instruction program equals $2,863,849. This includes the salaries and benefits for educational assistants, contracted services, instructional supplies, (laptops, iPads and chargers, curriculum and summer school materials, and STREAM camps).
A total of $134,000 is allocated for the special education program to pay salaries and benefits, as well as fund the purchase of equipment.
Additional funding of $616,191.56 is earmarked for health services and includes the purchase of cleaning supplies, thermometers for schools, 11 extra cots for nurse stations and PPE (masks and gloves).
The ESSER budget also provides $118,208 for Weakley County Schools’ regular instructional program. It covers salaries and benefits, and includes the estimated cost of hosting one-and-a-half-hour speaker sessions after school. Additionally, it provides technology training for teachers on Google Classrooms and other subjects.
Monies provided for education technology totals $115,000. Frazier noted the budget includes the purchase of much-needed replacements for older computers and facility improvements. It covers the cost of software purchases, including management software refresh for network, interactive panels, laptops, and backup. Equipment purchases include server refresh, which replaces six-year-old, end-of-life machines that run the school system’s network; and the installation of WiFi for buses.
In food service, $11,700 is designated to pay cafeteria workers for summer school.
The ESSER funding also allocates $12,200 for transportation costs, including salaries and benefits for bus drivers, and fuel for daily routes for summer school.
A list of teachers eligible for tenure was unanimously approved. They are:
- Dresden Elementary – Cari Malone and Megan Mitchell;
- Dresden Middle – Rebecca Scott;
- Gleason – Rebecca Covington and Sean Stephenson;
- Sharon – Robert Browning and Kristi Parlsey.
The board approved several sports-related field trips during May and June.
In announcements, chairman Vantrease extended sympathy on behalf of the board, to Don Pitt for the death of his sister, and to Michelle Vincent over the loss of her mother.
The next school board meeting will be held on Thursday, May 6, at 5 p.m. at the Weakley County Board of Education Conference Room in Dresden.