School board looking to boost test scores

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Special to the Citizen

With some bright spots in overall FCAT results, the school district's challenge will be how to spread that success.

"There are schools that are performing well," said Patrick Wnek, assistant superintendent of curriculum, at Tuesday's Levy County School Board meeting. "Our goal is to find out what they are doing."

"We know it can happen in all of our schools," he said, noting that some teachers are performing at a high level.

As for test results, he said the state was flat without a lot of gains. "One bright spot for us was in fourth grade with plus eight points," Wnek said. "We declined in some areas and were even in some." He said the district was at the state average in math and high school writing was a definite highlight.

He added the district was above state average in all of the End of Course Exams and scored in the top 10 in the state in United Sates History.

Subsequently, the district will be reviewing everything, curriculum, instruction and teachers. 

"Our focus is on improvement, we're looking at what is working," he said. "We want schools to perform at the highest level."

"We will continue to work to try and improve, you can never be satisfied with where you are at," said Superintendent Robert O. Hastings. "We have confidence in the administrators and teachers. We do think we need to make some adjustment in out instructional level at the county office."

The test results set the tone for discussion on performance pay. Hastings said the district was withdrawing from a grant that would have funded performance pay.

"It was $330,000 that just disappears because the union would not sign it," he said. "The school board has no other option than to withdraw from the grant."

Discussion pointed to the grant requirements of profession development and two annual teacher evaluations as sticking points for the union.

A previous discussion also had the board at odds with the union as it voted to deny a grievance. The action concerned an employee already on worker's compensation from her second job, being denied district sick leave from the donated sick leave bank after a committee had approved the request.

New school

A ceremony and groundbreaking are planned for January for the new Williston Middle High School. The building is expected to be completed in May or June of 2016 and be open for the 2016-17 school year.

There will be an outreach meeting at 6 p.m. on June 30, at the high school auditorium in Williston for local subcontractors interested in the project and get them the paperwork for becoming part of the process.

The Williston school will cost about $40 million. The school board will provide $6 million, with the remainder coming from the state. The 2014-15 state budget included its first installment of nearly $11.5 millio