Education news

The Polk School board proved to be hard at work when they approved a host of policies including the 2017-2018 graduation policy, incorporating parental involvement, mandatory electronic communications, the updated gifted program, sex education updates, salary deductions, and mandatory signings by the superintendent.

The graduation policy was once again approved and is largely the same as last year. High school students still need 4 English/Language Arts credits, 4 mathematics credits, 4 science credits, 3 social studies credits, 3 pathway credits, 1 credit for health/physical education, and 4 electives for a total of 23 minimum mandatory credits.

There is no credit limit, but students are not necessarily awarded for having extra credits. Credits are earned with a final minimum score of 70/100; credits are denied with a final score of 69 or lower.

Also approved by the board is a plan to incorporate parental involvement into the school. Under policy code LEBA, the policy will work to “provide information to parents in written form or through meetings on topics such as the State's academic content standards, State and local student academic achievement standards/assessments, and the requirements of parent involvement under the law,” reads the document. “Training educational staff on how to build ties between parents and the school. Sending information to parents in a format and, to the extent feasible, in a language that parents can understand. Coordinating and integrating parent involvement strategies with Head Start, Pre-K programs and other programs, to the extent feasible and appropriate by communicating directly and indirectly with these agencies through verbal or written information when needed” are also important parts of the policy. The board plans to conduct an annual evaluation of the policy- with the parent's help.

The board also approved the Electronic Communications policy which mandates a myriad of technology related activities. “Specific details of the implementation of this procedure will be updated on a regular basis,” reads the policy. For now, this policy ensures each school has a public website similar in format and information as one another.

The schools are encouraged to create additional pages- teacher specific sites, resource sites- inside of the school's parent website. Each website will have a webmaster appointed who maintains and controls what is published on the site.

The webmaster will have to routinely update the site, remove outdated information, periodically check for external links, and ensure the design of the site is easy to navigate. Along with this policy, the school “will offer web publishing training as part of the district's professional development offerings,” reads the website.

The county's gifted program is making a largely similar return as previous years. “The Polk School District Gifted Program shall be staffed by certified teachers of the gifted and shall be directed by the Coordinator of the Gifted Program,” reads the policy. It shall serve children in every school, K-12. The gifted staff shall regularly conduct in-service on gifted education and program procedures with regular education teachers and with system administrators.” As always, those who wish to stay in the gifted program must show satisfactory performance in both regular and gifted classes. Those who begin to fall behind will be placed into an “active probation” period the following semester. Students in the probation period will receive extra monitoring and support from the teacher, and the student's parent will be informed of the probation. Should active probation fail, students will be placed in “inactive probation” where they will be unable to attend gifted classes the following semester. Like active probation, parents will be notified of inactive probation.

Polk's sex education courses are making a return with a “planned program that shall include instruction relating to the handling of peer pressure, promotion of high-self esteem, local community values, and abstinence from sex as an effective method of preventing STD's and pregnancy.”

Interestingly enough, the policy allows parents to withdraw their children from the courses at their discretion. “Prior to the parent's or legal guardian's making a choice to allow his or her child or ward to take the specified unit of instruction, he or she shall be told what instruction is to be provided and have the opportunity to review all instructional materials to be used, print and non-print. Any parent or legal guardian of a child to whom a course of study in sex education is to be taught shall have the right to elect, in writing, that such child not receive such course of study," reads the official policy.

In unanimous favor, the Polk School board approved the right to make deductions to salary made to employees, within the limitations of payroll equipment: Federal and state taxes as required by law; medical, cancer, life, disability and dental insurance (if authorized by employee;) credit union; law required garnishments of wage; dues to professional organizations; voluntary payments to the Annuity plan approved by the board. Reimbursement for expenses associated with professional development activities that are not successfully and fully completed; salary for absent days that exceed the allotted days given. This policy does not necessarily mean teachers and staff members are getting paid less, deductions such as taxes and absent days are standard for any job.

In accordance with policy DJAA, the superintendent must now sign all checks for Polk School district and is liable for all for all money received in school funds.

The board decides how the superintendent will disburse the money, and the Chairman of the Board is the only other person allowed to use promissory notes. In regards to individual school funds, the principal and assistant principal must sign checks.

These policies are usually done at the beginning of the school year, but its not uncommon for additional policies to be passed throughout the year.

The approved policies had been tabled by the board before but were finally approved during the Aug. 8 meeting.