Leader Blues

Thursday, August 17, 2006

TOP STORY >> Districts cited by state for problems

Leader staff writer

News continues to be bad for Cabot Junior High North. First, the school was placed in late July on the state’s list of 325 schools needing improvement for failing to make adequate progress on the state benchmarks exams.

Last week, a faulty fluorescent light caused a fire that destroyed a large portion of the $9 million school.

Now the school has also been placed on probationary status for not meeting the state’s accreditation standards.

Three of Beebe’s five schools have also been cited for not meeting the state’s accreditation standards.

All of England’s schools, along with Cabot High School, five from Pulaski County and one from Lonoke have also been cited.

A citation, according to Beebe School Superintendent Belinda Shook, is a warning. “It’s not serious, but it does tell us we have an area that needs attention—a problem that needs to be corrected by next year,” she told The Leader.

Schools are cited or placed on probation because they either have teachers working in areas in whichthey do not have a license, the schools didn’t offer or teach the minimum number of core classes or failed to meet other standards.
Ultimately if the schools do not correct the deficiency, they could lose their accreditation and be closed.

Students from schools on probation could be hurt when applying for college and scholarships.
Overall, the state Board of Education placed 63 of the state’s 1,100 public schools and four school districts, including Pulaski County Special School District, on probation for continued violations.

Another 219 schools, and 19 school districts, were cited or warned, meaning that the violations occurred in the 2005-2006 school year.

“A problem stems from a change in how special education teachers are licensed,” Shook said. “It used to be a teacher could get a degree in special education and be licensed to teach, now they have to get a degree in another subject or area and then take additional courses to be licensed in special education,” the superintendent said.

Shook said Beebe has a number of teaching taking special education course to get their license, but the district already has them working as special education teachers.

“These are highly qualified licensed teachers,” Shook said, “but they don’t have all their special education hours yet.”
She said the district had been fortunate in past years with special education and other hard-to-fill positions.

“This has only recently become a problem for us,” she said.

The accreditation list released by the state education department Monday did not specify the problems at schools cited or placed on probation.

In Cabot, Cabot Junior High North was placed on probationary status, while the high school was cited.

In Pulaski County Special School District, Sherwood Ele-mentary, Sylvan Hills and Northwood middle schools, and Sylvan Hills and North Pulaski high schools were cited.

In Beebe, the intermediate, middle and high school were cited.

In Lonoke, the high school was cited. In England, the elementary, middle and high school were cited.