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FPS Board gets back to school

FPS Board gets back to school

August 10th, 2018 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

<p>Helen Wilbers/For the News Tribune</p><p>Members of the Fulton Hornets baseball team were recognized at Wednesday evening&#8217;s Board of Education meeting for earning the Academic All-State distinction with the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association. The team had an average GPA of 3.32.</p>

It's back to business as usual for the Fulton Public Schools Board of Education, as a new school year approaches.

The board met Wednesday evening after taking July off. Superintendent Jacque Cowherd started the meeting by celebrating the passing of Proposition K, which raises the district's operating levy.

"It was great talking to the new teachers this morning and telling them they're getting a raise," he said.

He thanked Fulton voters for participating during Tuesday's primary election.

The meeting soon turned to the upcoming school year. Cowherd hopes a change to enrollment policies will help things go smoother for new and returning students.

"Kids can't pick up their schedule or find out which elementary school they go to until they've enrolled online," he said.

This change was introduced to curb a problem with students from outside the district ending up at Fulton schools. Often, the error isn't discovered until partway into the school year because the child's parents or guardians wait to complete enrollment documentation.

"We're turning up quite a few folks who need some (residency) documentation," Cowherd said. "We've heard all kinds of excuses. (One person said), 'The school bus came by our house once, so we decided we should go there.'"

Summer school went off with hardly a hitch, Assistant Superintendent Ty Crain said. It, too, saw changes this year. Instead of making students retake classes wholesale, summer school focused on mastering objectives.

"Once the students mastered the objectives they needed, they got credit and could go home early," he said.

Some finished in only a week, he added.

The new method put extra work on teachers, who needed to prepare individualized plans for each participating student. Crain said he felt the change paid off. Students recovered a total of 87 semesters, and three seniors were able to graduate.

District administrators are already looking ahead to graduation for this year's batch of seniors. With class sizes on the rise, Fulton High School Principal Chris Mincher questioned whether the school's traditional commencement location will be big enough to hold everyone.

For as long as anyone can remember, commencement has been held at Champ Auditorium at Westminster College. However, seating capacity at the venue is limited, and to add extra seating by livestreaming the ceremony to another room costs an extra $1,200.

This means students have limitations on how many guests they may bring — just eight in 2018.

"Tickets are probably the biggest issue I have between when March hits and May," Mincher said.

Worse, growing class sizes mean future graduating classes will be issued even fewer tickets. Mincher estimated the next 12 classes will receive five to six tickets per student, at most.

Mincher proposed holding the next commencement ceremony at the district's own football field, which has a much greater seating capacity. Champ Auditorium can be reserved in case of inclement weather, he said.

The board decided to continue discussion of the matter at the next meeting, scheduled at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at the FHS library. The district will have its tax levy hearing at 6 p.m. Aug. 29 at Central Office.