Amy Harrison discusses the county’s graduation rate with the school board

Daniel Dye / The Herald

Elmore County Schools director of professional learning and development Amy Harrison discusses the county’s graduation rate with the school board.

At the Elmore County Board of Education meeting Monday afternoon, Michael Morgan was unanimously reelected as board chair and Dale Bain was unanimously reelected as the board’s vice-chair. 

Morgan, president and CEO of First Community Bank of Central Alabama, has served on the board since 2013. Bain, a retired military officer, has also served on the board since 2013.

The bulk of the meeting concerned the recently released Alabama Report Card grade of a “B” for Elmore County and what the school system is doing to prepare it students this year and beyond.

“Reading is going to be crucial,” Elmore County Schools superintendent Richard Dennis said. “It is something that has been ignored for years. When I say years, I mean writing has been out the window for a long time.”

Dennis and Elmore County Schools director of professional learning and development Amy Harrison indicated new standardized assessments for Elmore County public school students will lean heavily toward writing skills.

“There are going to be major challenges because this is an online test,” Dennis said. “These students in second grade will respond by (taking the test) on a keyboard. Are they accustomed to taking this test on a computer? That’s just one factor.”

Dennis also said another challenge students will face is these new tests are multiple choice. 

“This is a paradigm shift with what we have done in the past,” he said. “There’s a shortage of personnel that this state is fighting for right now in actually finding those people certified in these areas (of math and science). They’re not out there.”

Dennis informed the board there is one superintendent he spoke with who has only one certified math teacher in that superintendent’s system.

The board discussed a memorandum of understanding to contract off-duty police officers to serve as resource officers at every school location in the county.

“Our administrators on campus have more authority than law enforcement,” Dennis said. “Our expectation is that our administrators run the school and the resource officers act as support to them.”

The Wetumpka City Council approved the memorandum at its Nov. 18 meeting. That agreement will provide one off-duty Wetumpka police officer at each of the four schools located in Wetumpka. 

The police officers serving as resource officers at the schools will be paid by Elmore County Schools.

Dennis said the utmost importance for these school resource officers will be specific school resource training.

According to discussions during the meeting, the school system is still in discussions with Eclectic Police Department.

In other matters, the board:

• Received financial updates from chief financial officer Jason Mann

• Discussed the 2020-21 school calendar

• Received property acquisition updates concerning planned construction and architecture updates

• Recognized Wetumpka High School principal Dr. Robbie Slater as District 4 High School Principal of the Year

• Discussed Stanhope Elmore High School’s Painting with Veterans paintings displayed at the board meeting