By Ed Galucki

Staff Writer

Two expulsions marked an otherwise routine meeting of the Cabot School District Board of Directors held Dec. 18. Other agenda items included construction progress, curriculum development, sale of used vehicles and an OSHA inspection.

Assistant superintendent Harold Jeffcoat said the expected completion of the baseball/softball complex has been delayed. The poles needed for the backstop netting had to ordered from a supplier in Canada and did not arrive until early December, he said.

The poles have arrived and have been set in place and then had stand several days for the concrete to cure, Jeffcoat said. "They started today, hanging the netting on the softball backstop … hopefully by the end of the week we will have netting on both fields," he said.

Progress on the freshman academy is "going very well," Jeffcoat said. Framework on the main building is being put in place, he said.

Eastside Elementary parking areas have been improved with concrete parking stops, replacing the railroad ties, Jeffcoat said.

Board member Brian Evans said tickets for the Cabot Panther Foundation fundraiser, Dancing with Cabot Stars, are set to go on sale in January, "We are expecting to sell out within a couple of days," he said. Dancing with Cabot Stars is set for March 28.

The CPF has finalized the purchase of a scoreboard for the baseball/softball complex, Evans said. "The Foundation is proud to be able to provide that to the district," he said.

Thurman said inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) spent five days inspecting the district’s facilities; the inspection was unannounced but routine. There were issues found, but nothing major, he said.

"Most the items they found were fixed on sight," Thurman said. The condition of the facilities is a credit to the maintenance department, he said.

Once the report is received, the district has 30 days to fix any remaining issues, Thurman said.

The OSHA inspections are random as well as unannounced, Thurman said. "In my six years in office I have never met OSHA," he said.

Board members approved offering a 1996 Chevrolet ¾-ton pickup, and a 2001 Dodge ¾-ton pickup for sale. The vehicles will be advertised for bids.

Linda Payne, director of professional development and testing, said mid-year testing will be in January. Test materials are expected to arrive during the Christmas break , she said.

Testing schedule will be Algebra I, Jan. 15 and 16; Geometry, Jan. 17 and 18; Biology will be Jan. 22 and 23, Payne said. Unlike many other test cycles, these are the only subjects to be tested and will involve only a fraction of the students, she said.

Other testing will be in February with the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAPE), Payne said. School staff will not administer the test, NAPE personnel will be taking care of that, she said.

"It is over large chunks of basic skills, given only in the fourth, eighth and twelfth grade," Payne said.

Districts are selected randomly for the test, Payne said. "For some reason, we are randomly chosen every year," she said.

Not all schools, and not all students will take the test, Payne said. Parents of all eligible students have been notified, she said.

Not much is heard from the NAPE test, Payne said. "We don’t get one piece of data from this test," she said. All data is put in a national pool to gauge overall progress, she said.

Aaron Randolph, director of gifted and AP Programs, said students at the AP Academy are finishing their community service projects, one of the main components of the academy. Students design the service projects as a group, and the projects have to be completed by the end of the first semester of their senior year, he said.

One project was to distribute used books during CabotFest; the students also collected more than 2,000 gently used children’s books for the Bookmobile; more than 600 gift-wrapped books were given to elementary schools for literacy nights; and recently there was a canned food collection that gathered more than 2,000 cans that were used fill more than 900 food boxes, he said.

Tammy Tucker, director of 7-12 curriculum and instruction, said she and one other teacher had been given three days of support training in Teacher Excellence Support System (TESS), the new teacher testing program to be put in place in Arkansas.

Putting TESS in place "This is going to be a time-consuming proposition for principals, and there is no effective way to shortcut," she said.

The training will be important for the principals to ensure they will be able to pass their own assessment in TESS in order to evaluate teachers, Tucker said.School board members approved both expulsions recommended by the administrators; the expulsions are to the end of the 2012-13 school year.