School projects to begin
The Lawton Board of Education approved the lowest bidder for the sale of $3.06 million worth of general obligation building bonds, Series 2018A, on Thursday at the Shoemaker Education Center.
Two bids were submitted, with the winning bid going to Robert W. Baird & Company, Inc., of Milwaukee, Wisc. The winning bid was for a net interest cost of $193,504.20 at an average rate of interest at 2.1079 percent. Hutchinson, Shockey, Earley & Company of Chicago, Illinois submitted a higher bid.
The $3,060,000 in bonds were the first sale of $99.5 million in bonds authorized by voters during the Nov. 14, 2017 special election.
Jamie Polk, Lawton Public Schools Education Services assistant superintendent, briefed the board about the new state testing baseline scores and changes in the testing system. The shift to align the state's academic standards with the ACT and SAT standards are outlined in the "LPS Test Scores Take A Dip" article on page 1A of The Lawton Constitution Jan. 7 issue.
There is a proposed Oklahoma School Testing Program based on the new standards, but Polk reminded the board that that plan hasn't been formally approved as of yet by the U.S. Department of Education.
The good news from the scores is that "most Lawton students are at or above statewide assessment averages on tests. ... In the past students were deemed proficient if they demonstrated the basic grade level ... now proficiency is attained if the student is on track to be college or career ready," she said, explaining those who were proficient in the district declined 2 percent because "until 2017, we were only allowed to compare ourselves to ourselves and not to the national average. So we have new academic standards, new assessments and new performance levels."
Although each district was warned that there would be a "significant dip in scores," Polk said that the Lawton district fared well as compared to other districts in the state. It rated number 16 in the top 20 scoring districts out of a total of 90 districts.
There are now national benchmarks that have to be met, she said. "Our previous A through F report card assigned one letter grade to a building as an indicator of performance ... the new card will provide an overall grade, but will also assign other grades in subjects."
For example, they may have a B in English, a B in math, a C in science and so on, all that will be average to give an overall score.
One of the major focuses is on chronic or high absenteeism.
Chronic absenteeism is "if a student misses 10 percent or more of an academic school year ... that is determined as of Jan. 1 across the board," Polk said, explaining that starting Jan. 1, "they will be counted in that count if they are chronically absent."
Each building can get up to 10 points if no students are chronically absent, if, for example, 80 percent of the students in a building are not chronically absent, then they get 8 points, she said, explaining that this information will be available on computer at each principal's fingertips.