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School board approves step raises

The Madison Board of Education approved step increased raises for employees for the 2011-2012 school year at the meeting Thursday night.

The total cost for step raises are expected to be $925,749.62, said Jana Gray, financial officer.

“It’s a big commitment, but we enjoy offering it to employees,” said Superintendent Dee Fowler.  “When you give a better quality of life for employees, the better job they can do.”

The meeting revealed that the block system will return for the 2011-2012 school year.

Brenda Cornett from the Alternative Scheduling Committee said that the new high school will be on the block system.  The committee is focusing on bridging the gap between semesters.  For example, there would be review sessions for AP classes and ways to allow students to practice their foreign language of choice even after class is through.

School board and committee member Terri Johnson said the committee did extensive research and found the block system the best fit.

“For our community it’s working very well,” Johnson said.

“Disorder and disruption goes way down because there aren’t seven opportunities to get out there and be upset,” added school board and committee member Paul Schmidt.

In other business, Kevin Gunnison of the construction management team gave a presentation on the progress of James Clemens High School.

Gunnison said the construction is right on schedule and that the school is between 39 and 42 percent completed.  He said there will be roofs on all the buildings by winter.

Clara Toney talked about the ELL, or English Language Learning, Program that took place this summer.  The program is for children about to enter the school system who will be learning English as a second language.

A mother of two sons approached the school board and said the program was a “great learning experience.”

Michelle Phillips, a teacher who participated in the program for the first time this summer, said children would come in with limited skills but leave with a lot of improvement.  She also said there were new kids coming in almost every day.

“This is an outstanding program.  Our students will start smart [in the fall],” Phillips said.

John Jones presented the newest version of the Code of Student Conduct.  One of the most dynamic changes is that suspension will not count as unexcused absences anymore.

“I’m proud that now students can do make-up work for out of school suspension,” said board member Connie Spears.  “We’re not in the business of dragging them down.”

Previous different harassment forms have been condensed into a single form that can be used for multiple kinds of complaints or grievances.

The Madison Board of Education Board will launch a new website tomorrow, www.madisoncity.k12.al.us that will include a calendar, announcements, and links to every school’s own website, said Technology Coordinator Katrina Allen.

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