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SCS students will receive additional help with reading

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Shelby County Elementary Schools Coordinator Debbie Horton provided an update on what is being done in schools to help students read.

She said the school system is trying to ensure that necessary new instruction is provided to students every day, as some need intervention in this area.

“Thanks to our wonderful leadership from our district and the support of our board, we were able to put interventionists in each of our elementary schools,” Horton said. “They provide instruction in a program called Spire, a specialized program with individualized reading excellence.”

Spire is designed to promote reading success through an intensive structure program that incorporates phonological awareness, phonetics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension that is done through a systematic approach in a 10-step lesson, said Horton.

All responders were trained during the first week of January while the students were doing distance learning and are now in the classrooms actively working with the students.

Horton also discussed the iReady platform, where students take three ELA and math diagnostic tests each year that monitor their progress and growth toward mastery.

“At the end of the diagnosis, a pedagogical path emerges which is worked on in class and the teachers are able to follow [students’] progress and make sure they stay on track.

K-5 teachers participate in a two-year cohort called LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) in which they will learn eight units focused on the science of reading. It also teaches phonological awareness, phonetics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension as well as language and writing.

“In addition, the entire administrative education team and elementary school administrators participate in the LETRS for Administrators so that we learn to support our teachers so they can support our students,” Horton said. “We are very excited about these initiatives which will help us keep our children on track and close some of these learning gaps in the future.

Lynn Caroll spoke on behalf of Lewis Brooks for the Superintendent’s Report and thanked each of the Board members as January is Board Member Appreciation Month.

“I just want to thank you for your continued support in the pursuit of an excellent education for our students in our district…and for dedicating your time, energy and dedication to schools in Shelby County,” Carroll said. We are very fortunate to have such a great Board of Directors with excellent leadership and we truly appreciate each and every one of you.

In the architect and construction report, Barbara Snyder said the ongoing duct cleaning project in the system has been completed at six of Shelby County’s schools, including Wilsonville, Vincent Elementary, Vincent High, Columbiana Middle, Elvin Hill and CETC. The project at Shelby County Elementary and Shelby County High School began today.

Board-approved items include:

► Approval of out-of-state field trips. Both were for Helena High School for Fine Arts and Music Trips.

► Approval of a bid for the CNP department at Oak Mountain Intermediate School to replace a walk-in freezer/chiller at Bresco for $85,682. Due to supply chain issues, the wait time is 270 days, but Gwin said they hope to get it before the start of the next school year.

► No bids for the sale of a Stagecoach from the Oak Mountain High School Music Program have been received, but it will be re-auctioned and any proceeds will be donated to the Music Program.

► Approval of actions of personnel and submarines and bus helpers.

► Approval of a construction project for Calera Elementary School. This is part of the County Schools Fundraising Campaign which includes an addition of 10 classrooms. The lowest bid was from Williford Orman Construction for $3,479,228.

The next meeting of the Shelby County School Board will be February 17 at 5 p.m. at the Shelby County Educational Services Center in Alabaster.