FAYETTEVILLE -- The School District provided its annual report to patrons for the 2020-21 school year Thursday prior to the School Board's monthly meeting.
The report allows the district to have transparency for the community, said Steven Weber, teaching and learning associate superintendent.
The district served 10,151 students and had 1,473 staff members last school year, including 74 National Board certified teachers, Weber said.
The district received more than $2.4 million in federal funding for the 2020-21 school year, according to the report.
More than $1.9 million was allocated in support of economically disadvantaged students in the form of interventions and building professional learning, Weber said. Some $423,155 was allocated to improving teacher quality through professional development, novice teacher mentoring and curriculum implementation and refinement support, while about $75,796 was allocated toward English language learners in the form of supplemental salaries and benefits, parent involvement services, transportation and interpretation, Weber said.
The report also included updates on how district students in grades 3-10 performed on the ACT Aspire test, which assesses student readiness in subjects such as reading and math.
Of the 6,487 eligible for 2020-21 testing, 27% are in need of reading support, 20% are close to standards, 21% are at grade level and 21% are exceeding standards, according to the report.
Student outcomes for math note 21% of tested students are in need of support, 23% are close to standards, 24% are at grade level and 21% are exceeding expectations, according to the report.
About 11% of students don't have an ACT Aspire test on file, according to the report.
"The pandemic did have an impact on teaching and learning," Weber said of district ACT scores. "That had an impact on their ability to learn key skills."
The report will be published on the School District's website, said Alan Wilbourn, district public information officer.
"Once it's posted, it will provide some great insights," said Nika Waitsman, board president.
In other news, the board voted 7-0 to update its attendance policy in preparation for any potential shifts to remote learning this school year.
Students who must pivot temporarily to virtual learning will be required to log in daily and attend classes digitally, according to the policy. Failure to attend class via the designated virtual platform at the scheduled time will result in a class period absence being recorded.
Families that don't have internet access at home may request to check out a hot spot from the district, according to the policy.
"We do have in our policy language that covers attendance for Fayetteville Virtual Academy, but we did want to expand this policy to include an attendance requirement for those students that have to pivot temporarily, perhaps because of quarantine, to virtual learning," said Tammy Tucker, administrative services associate superintendent. "This policy is just being updated to include that language."
Tim Hudson, board secretary, acknowledged the challenges and value of tracking student attendance during temporary remote learning periods.
"I appreciate that there's a very specific approach to it," Hudson said.
The policy would apply to remote learning during snow days, Tucker said.
"Hopefully we got all the snow out of our system last year," she said.
The board also unanimously approved the retirement of David Watkins, principal of Ramay Junior High School, as part of district certified staff changes. His retirement took effect Sept. 15.
Watkins, 51, was arrested July 1 in connection with a misdemeanor charge of harassment. He was released the next day on a $2,500 bond. The city prosecutor's office could not be reached Thursday for the latest information on the case.
Watkins was hired as Ramay's principal in June 2016. He previously was principal of Kimmons Junior High School in Fort Smith for six years. His salary this school year was $121,186, according to district documents.
Andrea Kitchen is serving as Ramay's interim principal, according Holly Johnson, district communications and public relations executive director.
The following represent the Fayetteville School District student and staff demographics for the 2020-21 school year as detailed in the district’s annual report to patrons:
Pacific Islander: 1.5%
Native American: 0.36%
Two or More: 7.75%
Pacific Islander: 0%
Native American: 1.8%
Two or More: 2%
Source: Fayetteville School District