Award-winning sports safety and electric race cars were highlights of the July 16 school board meeting.

Superintendent Tony Thurman and school board members Brian Evans, Ricky Hill, Wendel Msall, Donna Nash, Mark Russell and Corey Williams attended the meeting.

During the meeting, head athletic trainer Jason Cates told of the district being named a Team Safe Sports School because of the athletic safety program.

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association gave the award, Cates said. The award is for outstanding commitment to athletes’ safety, he said.

Results of the safety program can easily be shown with a “dollars and cents” perspective, Cates said. Tracking injuries and rates lets the district respond with preventative action, he said.

“Last year we had what I felt was huge number of ACL injuries,” Cates said. After review with coaching staff, adjustments were made, “This year we had two, and those were ‘wrong place – wrong time’ injuries … I am excited about the job we are doing,” he said.

There have been some heat-related injuries, but none requiring hospitalization, Cates said. “With our interventions, they were good,” he said.

Tammy Tucker, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, told of the successes of the district’s summer programs. There were 149 students in the secondary summer school, and beginning July 22 the district will offer a two-week program for ACT preparation. “It is completely voluntary for students who want to participate,” she said.

The English as Second Language Academy, held at Central Elementary, there were 63 students.

More than 100 students came to the Hot Spots programs, and more than 630 students visited the Reading Road Trip bus.

In another new program, a number of students in elementary schools were mailed books during the summer break, she said.

The books were mailed about two weeks apart, and are the students’ to keep, Tucker said. “It is an additional attempt to keep books in the hands of our students,” she said.

Replying to a question from Msall, Tucker said the current state of e-books makes it more convenient to use printed textbooks. The e-versions of text books are just as expensive as print copies, and the back-and-forth page references in some studies are easier to cope with in the print versions. “I look for that to change over the next few years … many of our teachers still prefer the traditional books,” she said.

While the students are more accepting of the e-books, but even those adept at both means say that sometimes they just want to pick up a book, Tucker said.

Linda Payne, director of professional development and testing, reviewed the back-to-school preparations for teachers. New teacher orientation will two days, Aug. 6-7, board members can come either day to be introduced to the teachers, Payne said.

Aug. 12 will mark the beginning of professional development, with the teachers in their school buildings working with the principals.

GT/AP programs director Aaron Randolph told of annual evaluations made of the programs, as required by state law. “Are we doing what we are supposed to be doing, that is take care of our kids; also, we need to check to see how our student growth is … are we taking them where they need to be,” he said.

Interviews, online surveys, “paper-and-pen” surveys and focus groups of parents and administrators were used to gauge the effectiveness of the GT/AP programs.

Randolf said the secondary school surveys could be misleading, “because we had a very small number of secondary students respond.” However, that has historically been the case with secondary, Randolf said.

New for the 2013-14 school year will be AP Music Theory at the high school, Randolf said. “This is a very, very intense music course,” he said.

The course is oriented toward students who may go on to careers in teaching music, Randolf said. It is a unique course offered in a few schools in the state; about 40 students have signed up for the course, he said.

Tanya Spillane, fifth to ninth grade curriculum coordinator, reported about preparation by teachers for the Freshman Academy.

Deputy superintendent Harold Jeffcoat showed pictures of the progress on the Freshman Academy.