Stone Resigns, Romine Named Lovington Grade School Interim Principal

By ARIANA R. CHERRY
Staff Writer

The Arthur Lovington Atwood Hammond School Board accepted the resignation of Lovington Principal Brandon Stone effective immediately at the regular meeting of the board on Wednesday, October 21.

Amanda Romine has been named interim principal for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. She will retain her position as Technology Coordinator for the district as well. Romine stated, “I’ve been in the position for two weeks and everything is going great.”

Superintendent Shannon Cheeks opened the Treasurer’s report, noting that all funds were on track to date. Cheek did mention that the district received four very generous donations in the past month. The one he was most proud of came from Senior Jack Martin, who donated his time to power wash the front of the school building. Cheeks estimated to be about $500 worth of his time and materials. A total of $3,400 was collected in donations which included donations from Edward Jones for the FFA and AG programs and a donation from Aikman’s Wildlife Adventures. Sarah Bush Lincoln also reimbursed the district $700 to the athletic program.

The district obtained a grant which allowed them to purchase and provide all students in the district water bottles. The grant helped cover half of the expense. The district also applied for another grant through ADM in the amount of $14,000. It will help them pay for a tractor and seed cleaner for the district’s popcorn field. They also will purchase a camera for documenting. Once some popcorn has been harvested, the district will give some to ADM as a thank you.

This year the open house and parent-teacher conferences were held a bit differently with the COVID19 virus still very present in our communities. Teachers put together videos of their classroom and students’ works for parents and families to view. They also held conferences via ZOOM or other platforms with students’ parents for parent-teacher conferences which went successfully.

A review of the district’s audit was given and for the most part, its summary was similar to the audit presented last year.

School improvement plans were presented from all of the principals in the district (with the exception of Shannon Cheek presenting Brandon Stone’s from Lovington).

“I give the admin team a lot of credit for the time and effort that they have put into it. It is necessary and exciting and this is a necessary step in moving forward as a district. I give them credit for taking care of business that needs to be taken care of. I am excited for the work that they put into it,” noted Cheek.

At the Lovington Grade School, some of the goals for its improvement plan included raising math scores by 5%. Presently, students in Lovington are at a very low percentile compared to what usual averages should be. It was noted that students missed a lot of their instruction when school was out last March from the COVID19 shut-downs. Lovington also wanted to increase reading scores by 5% and raise parent participation. “It is a good start and you have to start somewhere and I am proud of the efforts that have been given”, quoted Shannon Cheek.

At the Atwood-Hammond Grade School, math scores currently sat at 19.77% and they wanted to raise them to 20.77%. Atwood-Hammond also wanted to increase its reading scores by 5%. Currently it was sitting at 34.1% and wanted to raise it to 39.1%. “The biggest thing I want to work on this year is collaboration with the staff. We scored lower on this and it is one of the five essentials. The data that we get – we need to know how to look at that data and how we use it to see how we need to improve our schools,” noted Atwood-Hammond Grade School Principal Kristin Nall.

Arthur Grade School Principal Sage Hale noted during her presentation, that she too wanted to increase math and reading scores by five percent. “I have a plan to have monthly meetings with our staff and see how they are coming along with their goals and how students are responding. We are also coming up with different reward systems for our students – such as rewarding them for good behavior, etc,” explained Principal Hale.

“A year ago, we didn’t have a school improvement team, so this started a year ago. Our time together during a faculty meeting is very precious,” noted Principal Steffanie Seegmiller at the opening of her report. The first goal of ALAH is academic. “We are all about the SAT at the high school. The first time the SAT was given across the state for high schools was 2017. (Before that, it might have been optional). I am hoping that the data that is given to us, will give us confidence- that it will show us what we are doing is working,” informed Principal Seegmiller. Seegmiller said that ALAH’s second goal was school culture and the third was college career and readiness. “The state has a goal that by 2032, 90% or more of our students will be college or career ready,” she said.

Superintendent Cheek noted some similar themes throughout the presentations from its district principals. “It’s not necessarily about the goals – while I don’t want to minimize that, but what is nice to hear is the collaborative process. That includes collaborating with the staff, forming a team, getting input and use of data to drive decisions. We are starting to establish culture and establish what has already been there,” he explained.

Shannon also presented a COVID update for the district. Since the start of school, we have had 11 student COVID19 cases and two teacher cases. “We have been trying to update the public every other week to show them where we are at. We have made it to the first quarter while still having in person class and we are moving forward. We are doing contact-tracing, quarantines, cleaning and due-diligence. Our office staff is outstanding! The cases in Douglas County have been astronomical, but I am positive that we can continue, but the cases in our county have been rising. I am optimistic, but we are also day-by-day,” he said. “I want to make sure that we are proceeding with caution, but still giving kids an opportunity,” Shannon added. He noted that the district was in a good place, while that was not the case in other districts. “I cannot thank our staff enough,” he said graciously. “It is because of them, that we are still in school,” Cheek added.

Personnel Report for October 21, 2020:

Certified: Accept letter of resignation from Mr. Brandon Stone

Non-Certified:

Accept the letter of retirement from Lana Havens

Recommend for hire:

Alexia Stanley as a part-time teacher’s aide at AGS.

Extra-Curricular:

Recommend for hire, Jessica Vanausdoll for 7th Grade Volleyball Coach

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