By John R. Schirmer
Enrollment on the first day of classes in the Nashville School District was 1,978 students, according to Superintendent Doug Graham. That compares to 1,918 on opening day last year.
Classes began Monday in Nashville and most other public schools in Arkansas. Graham gave an update on the first day during the school board meeting Monday night.
“This was about as anti-climatic a day as I can remember in a while,” Graham said, noting that building principals reported a smooth opening day district wide.
The first attendance report to the state will be sent Sept. 15, Graham said. Last year’s enrollment on that date was 1,880. The district’s third quarter average last year was 1,913.
Board members discussed a number of other matters at Monday night’s meeting.
The coaching staff for Nashville’s inaugural soccer program was named.
Aaron Worthen will be the head coach for boys soccer. He currently serves as head junior high boys basketball coach, assistant high school boys basketball coach and assistant track coach. He will not be an assistant in track this spring, Graham said.
Nick Evans will be the head coach for girls soccer. Currently, he is an assistant football coach and assistant softball coach. He will not assist with softball this this year, according to Graham. Wade Matlock will join the softball program as an assistant coach, succeeding Evans. Matlock teaches science at junior high and is an assistant senior high football coach.
Cristal Perez will be a volunteer assistant coach with the girls soccer team.
The school board approved a soccer program for grades 9-12 during its July meeting. Games will be played during the spring.
In other business Monday night, Superintendent Joe Kell reviewed the district’s scores on the ACT Aspire test administered last spring to students in grades 3-10. Nashville scored at or above the state average on most sections, according to Kell’s report.
Overall, the lowest scores in Nashville and statewide came on the writing section of the Aspire, Kell said. Educators are asking the state for more time on the writing portion next year, noting that there were only 30 minutes on last year’s version.
Writing was scored with more rigor than other test areas, Kell said, based on standards in Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, which ranges from Level 1, the low end of the scale; to Level 4, the high end. On the writing portion, 100 percent was scored at Level 3 or higher. “We just found that out a couple of weeks ago,” Kell said.
Teachers and administrators “have discussed ways to improve our scores in reading and writing based on information from the state. We’ll work on these skills in all areas, not just English,” Kell said.
Graham said there are a couple of things which are “the most encouraging about the results. The first is that we can identify some low-hanging fruit that we can address and make some ganes. The other is that this year will be the first time in three years that we will use the same test.”
Complete test results for the Nashville district were reported in the July 27 issue of the News-Leader.
The school board approved the district’s budget for 2016-17. The budget calls for total revenue of $19,817,685 with total expenditures of $15,257,528. The projected balance for June 30, 2017 is $4,560,157.
Board members held a budget workshop before the regular board meeting Monday. During the workshop, Graham said that he approved every item requested by building principals. “On every line item at all four buildings, the principals got exactly what they asked for.”
The district will receive $1,257,000 in National School Lunch Act funding, compared to $950,000 in 2015-16. The total is based on the number of students on free and reduced lunches.
Graham said the district is considering using some of the money for a math coach to work with teachers on improving student achievement.
Junior high FCCLA adviser Tammy Elliott and three of her students were recognized for their work on the state and national levels. They included Kimberly Perez, Hope McCauley and Baili Wiley. More on their accomplishments will be included in next week’s issue of the News-Leader.
The board hired Wade Matlock as a half-route bus driver, succeeding Coach Brian “Boomer” Brown,. Hal Scroggins was hired as a full-route driver, succeeding James “Tiny” Lewis.