County school board preps for PowerSchool transition

In Tuesday's work session, the DeKalb County Board of Education heard an update from Assistant Superintendent Brian Thomas regarding the PowerSchool transition in DeKalb County Schools.

Superintendent Jason Barnett said Thomas and several other employees recently attended a conference regarding their PowerSchool transition, a student information system.

He said the system handles a wide variety of student information and is equipped with many components to which they will be transitioning in the 2020-2021 school year.

“There is a lot of work that has to be done,” said Barnett.

Thomas said, echoing Barnett, the transition is a big undertaking, and “this is not something DeKalb County chose to do, it’s something the whole state is doing.”

“The whole state is going through the same process as we are here in DeKalb County,” he said.

Thomas said there are some select systems in the state piloting the program early, but he wanted to inform the public what this transition means.

“For teachers, it impacts their professional development. It is very important because every five years, they have to go through recertification, and this is where the state pulls that information from,” he said.

He said they would be doing some turnaround training in the near future first with supervisory staff and people who conduct training regularly.

“Now there is a development site before you can enroll students into a class, then an approval site. It's very in-depth,” Thomas said.

He said it would also affect the way teachers record grades and keep up with student transfers.

“We have a brand new system, so the grade book is going to be new, and teachers will have to be trained on that,” Thomas said.

The new program will also change the way teachers take attendance and how they keep track of students.

According to Thomas, although most teachers are using Google Classroom as an online component, PowerSchool has recently partnered with Schoology, an online classroom component.

“We don’t know exactly how that is going to work, but we are getting that in the state of Alabama,” he said.

He said counselors would undergo a different set of training along with principals.

“It’s going to be frustrating because it's new, and it doesn’t matter how good it is or how bad it is. It's new, and that is something we are going to try to get ahead of upfront,” Thomas said.

He said they do think it’s going to be a positive change, and there are a lot of positive things that the system can do.

According to Thomas, of the student information systems in North America, PowerSchool makes up 40 percent.

“They are in 75 percent in some form or fashion of every public school, probably private and charter schools in North America,” he said.

Thomas said there is going to be some required training, and there is no way around that. Still, they are working on setting specific training based on category, hiring someone from the company who will come in and work with peers, and creating a sandbox environment as a practice platform for trainees.

“This is a challenge, but there are challenges with our current system, too, and we are working diligently to make sure all the right people are trained,” said Barnett.

Also, during the meeting, the board congratulated Fyffe High School Football team on their win over Reeltown for the AHSAA Class 2A Football Championship.

The board approved the early graduation of the following students:

• Collinsville High School – Crystal Briggs

• Crossville High School – Anna Edmonson, Lilliona Morales and Zoe Jones

The board also:

• accepted the retirement of Bruce Shores - maintenance worker - facilities - retirement - 1/1/20 and Ardell Baugh- transportation mechanic- bus garage- retirement- 2/1/20

• accepted the resignation of Thomas Henderson - custodian - Ruhama Junior High School - resignation - 1/3/20, Perla Crump - itinerant transliterator - system - resignation - 12/20/19, Jonathan Cole - 10.5 month custodian - Crossville Elementary School resignation - 9/23/19 and Steve Farmer- bus driver - Collinsville High School- resignation- 12/1/19

• approved the leave of absence of Terry White - bus mechanic - bus garage - 6/27/19-1/10/20 (extended from 12/19/19) and Christy Cooper - secondary English language arts teacher - Plainview High School - 10/3/19-5/27/20 (intermittent)

• approved the transfers of Tara Kirby -teacher at Henagar Junior High School to itinerant parent and family, engagement specialist - system (2019-204), Kelly Bunch - custodian at Henagar Junior High School to courier 10 months - facilities building (2019-218) effective January 2, 2020, Susan Shankles - custodian at Plainview High School to CNP worker at Plainview High School (2019-226) effective January 2, 2020, Dr. Richard Rutledge - assistant principal at Crossville High School to high school principal - Plainview High School (2019-217) - year probationary contract January 1, 2020- December 31, 2021

• approved the certified placements of Amelia Parker - Pre-K teacher - Crossville Middle School (2019-224) effective January 2, 2020- May 27, 2020

• approved the support placements of Emily Higdon - itinerant school social worker - system (2019-202), Crystal Emerson - 4 hour store worker - Ider High School (2019-225) effective January 2, 2020 and Desiree Henderson - Pre-K Auxiliary (Leave from 1/6/20-4/24/20) - Ruhama Jr. High School (2019-227)

• approved the following contracts: Rex Harrison - homebound - IDEA B, Karyn Pickett - homebound – local, Holly Farmer - homebound - local Milestones Behavior Group - IDEA B, Holly Berrong - healthcare facilitator at Crossville High School - Title I, Joanna Howell - after school program at Crossville Middle School - Title I, Alicia Satterfield - tutor - Title I, Chrystal Henderson - Saturday school teacher - Title I, Lauren Roszell - Saturday school teacher - Title I, Bradley Waldrop - Saturday school teacher - Title I, Troy Mueller - bus driving / safety trainer - state transportation, Leslie Bunch - instructional services provider – local, Margaret Brown-central office clerical help-local, Kimberly Ford - ESL tutor - Title I and Linda Hawkins - intervention teacher - Title I

• approved the purchase of the Lightspeed – Relay, classroom and analytics component – local at $54,300.00

• approved vehicle purchase bid awarded to Donohoo Chevrolet - Donohoo Chevrolet- Chevrolet Malibu- five drivers education vehicles at $18,397.21 per vehicle total: $91,986.05, Donohoo Chevrolet- Chevrolet Silverado 1500 maintenance vehicle- $21,022.20, Donohoo Chevrolet- Two Chevrolet Silverado 2500 maintenance vehicles at $31,854.28 per vehicle total: $63,708.56, Donohoo Chevrolet- four Chevrolet Silverado 2500 transportation vehicles at $31,854.28 per vehicle total: $127,417.12

• approved the following bids: CNP - double stack steamer for Collinsville High School - Hawk, Inc. - $13,961.22, CNP - holding cabinet for Collinsville High School - BRESCO - $4,596.00 and re-roofing projects at multiple schools - Willoughby Roofing and Sheet Metal-Local- $179,415.00

The next meeting will be held on January 23, 2020 with regular meeting at 5 p.m. and work session at 4:30 p.m.

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