Thursday night’s meeting of the University City Board of Education began with student representative Sydney Pritchard informing the board about how the year was wrapping up at University City High School (UCHS).
Students are participating in ACT cram sessions as they prepare for the April test date, with blood drives and the election of next year’s student council representatives also taking precedent.
Superintendent Joylynn Wilson Pruitt followed with her recommendation that the board recognize the UCHS Robo-Lions for their first place finish at the 2011 St. Louis Regional FRC Tournament on March 19. This is the second year that the team has competed in the tournament, after getting knocked out in the semi-finals in 2010. The victory allows the team to compete in the World Championships at the Edward Jones Dome between April 27 and 30. Pruitt also mentioned that the University City School District is the only metro district to feature robotic programs at every level, from elementary through high school.
Pruitt also made sure to remind everyone of the ribbon cutting for the new Barbara Jordan Elementary School on April 30.
“We want this to be a community celebration,” Pruitt said.
Citizen comments followed, with guest speakers tackling a range of subjects. Resident Holston Black brought with him studies pertaining to the education of African-American males in the public school system. He spoke of strategies and methods to not only improve participation, but also potentially send more African-American males from the district to college following graduation. He asked the board to take these findings under consideration and implement those they saw fit.
Patricia Harris, a teacher in the district, spoke to the board on the decline in funding and maintenance of the district’s fine arts programs. She asked the board to take a more active role in getting the programs back on track. She mentioned the completion of a mandatory review in August 2009, and the presentation of a new curriculum last March for the board to approve. She asked the board why no action had been taken since, lamenting the fact that there is no set curriculum for the teachers to follow.
“The teachers are waiting in limbo,” Harris said, speaking not only for the current school year but the 2011-2012 one as well if a standard curriculum is not adopted.
A presentation on the Gifted Resource Council Summer Academy followed. The academy serves as a summer program that helps bright and talented children better reach their potential. Since 1993, the district has paid the way for at least 35 students to attend the academy every summer. The total cost of the program was $14,000 a year. A representative from the academy thanked the board and the school district for their continued support and participation.
Dr. Darryl O Cobb and Rob Corley, the district’s chief information officer, brought before the board a plan to expand the district’s information systems services service agreement. This would allow the district to improve upon its existing information systems, providing easier access and a broader range of services.
Board director Ellen Bern asked Corley is this would enable the district to begin posting homework assignments online. While Corley couldn’t promise an exact date, he said that his would help put the district on its way to meeting that goal.
“I’m going out on a limb here, but there is a chance that we’ll have some form (online homework) by the beginning of next school year,” Corley said.
The board voted unanimously to approve the expansion of the contract. After approving the revisions on Board Policies A and B, the board adjourned until April 7.