DeWitt School Board Gives Annual Report to the Public

by Charlotte Purdy

The DeWitt School Board held its Annual Report to the Public on Tuesday, October 11, 2022, at the Administration Building at 6:30 p.m.

Dr. Nick Hill, Superintendent, reported that the DeWitt School District remains in compliance with all state mandated standards of performance and operation, and retains full accreditation through the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Dr. Hill stated that there are three central targeted goals for improvement, with those being to increase Literacy achievement, increase the graduation rate, and to increase achievement in subgroups. The current enrollment numbers for the DeWitt School District were reported as Pre-K of 40, K-12 of 1,114, with a total enrollment of 1,154.

Dr. Hill then gave the facilities report and stated that new carpet has been laid in 8 classrooms at DES, all new facility projects are complete, new furniture and fixtures have been placed at the DHS cafeteria with new outdoor seating under the pavilion, and work to complete the HVAC system at DHS.

DeWitt School District covers 923 square miles with 13 bus routes. Busses cover 1,043 miles each day. Dr. Hill reported that one bus has been ordered and was purchased through ESSER funding. He went on to report on the food services and stated that the USDA did not extend the free meal waivers for the current school year. DMS and DHS second-choice line was expanded and the second-choice breakfast option is still available at DMS and DHS.

Moving on to discuss technology at DSD, Dr. Hill reported that K-2 uses iPads daily, 3-12 has a 1:1 Chromebook take home, the classrooms are equipped with Smartboard Interactive Panels and document cameras, the schools use Schoology for the Learning Management System, and MacBook Pros are being used for teacher and administrator devices.

Dr. Hill then gave the financials before the report moved to Mrs. Julie Landrum who reported on Curriculum. She stated that the focus of curriculum centers around ensuring a guaranteed and viable curriculum with the emphasis being on developing and defining essential standards, learning targets, formative assessments, and summative assessments.

Landrum went on to state that there were no changes on assessment this year and that this is the last year for the ACT Aspire test. She then reported on Gifted and Talented, which has a total of 129 students.

Winnie Wilson then reported for Special Education which has a current staff of 21, including all paraprofessionals and the Special Service’s Secretary. DeWitt School District contracts services for Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapy and has a contracted Psychological Examiner that provides testing for all three schools.

Bobbie Steeland, DES Principal, reported a total enrollment of 490 students and discussed the DES Commitments. Those include working in collaboration to ensure ALL students will be successful, improving teacher efficacy, ensuring a guaranteed and viable curriculum, guiding teams to use data from essential standards, and being solution oriented by identifying barriers. Steeland then reported on the 2022 ACT Aspire Scores. 3rd-5th Grade English scores showed that 4th and 5th grade met the state average, 3rd – 5th Grade Math scores showed 4th grade met the state average, 3rd – 5th Grade showed that 3rd-5th all met the state average, and 3rd – 5th Grade Reading scores showed that 3rd and 4th grade met the average.

Steeland then spoke on the DES celebrations and the learning cycle before highlighting some of the DES activities which included the 3rd Grade Fishing Derby, 3rd Grade Musical, Dot Art, Little Rockers Marathon, 2022 Black History Month Art Collage, Camp Dragon, and the Spider STEM Lab. Steeland also pointed out the DES Extra Activities and Supports.

Rachel Mitchell, DMS Principal, followed Steeland and gave her report on DMS. She began by reporting that the current enrollment is 268 students. Mitchell stated that this year’s focus was to increase reading performances and closing the gap between the SPED population and all students.

Mitchell then reported that DMS has a 1:1 on devices for all and that they have teams who have developed essential skills and are using data to drive instruction and remediation. Mitchell then discussed the extra-curricular activities and supports for DMS students which include STUCCO, Quiz Bowl, Athletics, Cheer, Band & Choir, multiple organizations and the backpack programs, clothing closet, and hygiene closet.

Mitchell stated that their collaborative teams consist of the DMS Guiding Coalition, Literacy, Math, Science, Social Studies, Special OPS & Student Succes teams. She also reported that they are using iReady, ACT Aspire & Reading counts to gather data for growth and RTI purposes.

ACT Aspire scores showed that 6th – 8th grades all met the state average in Math and Science, 7th grade met the state average in English, and 6th and 7th grade met the state average in Reading.

Paige Gunnell, DHS Assistant Principal, then gave the DHS report by stating that DHS increased class instruction time by going from 8 periods to 7 periods a day and that teams are in the process of completing Learning Cycles based on their essential standards and learning targets. Gunnell reported that an Academic Reading class has been added to support Dyslexia students and a mentor program is providing support for the DHS novice educators.

Currently, there are 76 students enrolled in AP courses at DHS and Gunnell reported that the ACT composite for Juniors is higher than last year, with that score being 18.6 up from 17.2 last year. The ACT Aspire scores show that 9th and 10th grade met state average in English, Math, Science, and Reading.

To conclude the Annual Report to the Public, Dr. Hill stated that the district continues its commitment to the PLC system and every school and classroom in the DeWitt School District will be student-centered focusing on student learning.

Following the Annual Report to the Public, the Board held its regular monthly meeting. Shawanna Wansley led those in attendance in prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited. President Drew Whiting called the meeting to order and minutes from the September 13, 2022 Regular Meeting and the September 27, 2022, Special Called meeting were approved. The Financial Statement given by Dr. Hill was also approved.

Dr. Hill then recommended that the board approve the renewal of the Death and Dismemberment Insurance and the Use of Facilities request by the Peewee Basketball team, both of which were approved by the Board.

Jim Craig was then nominated to be the ASBA Delegate Assembly Voting Representative and two legal transfers were approved by the Board following Dr. Hill’s recommendation.

Dr. Hill concluded the meeting with the Superintendent’s Report and the meeting was adjourned.