Schools chief: Longer year helps students retain learning

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By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

Chapman reports Title 1 grant increase

CANNELTON - Cannelton City Schools Superintendent Al Chapman said signs are encouraging that the school calendar in use the last two years has resulted in improved retention of information by students.

"They spend less time out of school, and more information is retained," he said after the May 14 school-board meeting. "I feel like we're seeing (improvements) in our test scoring and in attitudes toward school," he explained. "It's still early, but if it continues to be a trend, we want to continue it."

The school board had just approved a calendar for next year that, like the past two years, is longer overall but contains longer breaks.

Cannelton students will report to school Aug. 4 this year, eight days earlier than those of the county's other two school systems. Their last day will be May 28, compared to the May 21 and 22 finish dates for Tell City and Perry Central students, respectively. Students in both those districts will observe spring break March 23-27, while Cannelton youngsters will be off March 16-27.

The longer break means students and staff members return more refreshed, Chapman said, "but we recognize people need time off in the summer; that's why we provide two months.

"Why start so early?" board member Jerry Harris asked, explaining he "was never a proponent of starting (the school year) early." Board President Christal Moskos said it was necessary "to keep the two semesters equal."

In response to questions from Moskos about the budget, Chapman noted, as he has previously, that local-tax money hadn't yet been received. "That's almost $300,000 you don't see until May or June," he said. It's impossible to provide month-to-month reconciliations "because 30 percent of your revenue isn't there."

He informed the board the United Way of Perry County gave the school corporation its gold award for 2007 employee donations totaling $3,499.

"I'd like to thank our staff for being as generous as they are," Moskos said.

A United Way "stuff-the-bus" event that debuted last year "was a tremendous success," Chapman said, and will be repeated July 17-19 this year. Shoppers are encouraged to donate school supplies during the event, and "it's really nice to have supplies brought to kids who otherwise wouldn't have them," Harris said.

Chapman reported a Title 1 grant that funds preschool and kindergarten programs has jumped from $51,000 last year to $88,000. The money helps the school corporation provide all-day kindergarten and identify early any children who might need extra help before they fall behind their peers.

The board approved the retirements of Ed Lawalin and Lynn Young after 33 years of service.

"We'd like to thank both of you for your years of dedication," Moskos told them.

Harris noted both "have been an asset to the community," and said he, too, appreciates their dedication.

The board also approved the end-of-year resignation of social worker Rob Moskos, who said he'd help his replacement learn the job, according to Chapman.

Elementary Principal Ginger Conrad told the board the media club sponsored by teacher Joan Goble is raising money to go to Florida by participating in a Wendy's restaurant promotion.

"There will be lots of opportunities to donate," she said.