The Trimble County Board of Education heard a presentation on district improvement for the first time since the Kentucky Department of Education released its 2021-2022 school report card (SRC) data in October.

The 2022-2023 Comprehensive District Improvement Plan (CDIP) was presented to the school board by Kathy House, the chief academic officer of Trimble County. House explained that the CDIP is created with the principals of each building based on their Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP).

“I worked collaboratively with each building’s principal as they were developing their CSIP with their SBDM,” House said. “Then, how we develop the CDIP is we merge all of the goals and the activities and the strategies from the schools that then become the CDIP.”

The 2022-23 CDIP has seven required district goals: state assessment results in math and reading; state assessment results in science, social studies and writing; achievement gap; English learner progress; quality of school climate and safety survey; postsecondary readiness; and graduation rate. These goals are described in depth on the CDIP, which is posted annually to the school district’s website.

For reading and math, the goal is to raise reading and math proficiency by 15% points at each level (elementary, middle and high) by 2024. This goal is based on data from the 2018-2019 school year as Covid affected standardized testing. Although standardized tests aren’t the only method to measure student performance and improvement, they are a significant source of data and are therefore used in the CDIP.

According to the CDIP, Trimble County schools plan to increase proficiency in science, writing and social studies by 15% at each level by 2024, based on 2018-19 assessment data. The available data from 2020-2021 showed a drop in scores, though that has not affected the long-term goal.

To address the achievement gap, House said that the district is tracking the comparison between the performance of the general student population and the performance of subgroup populations while also comparing those performances to students across the state. These comparisons are significant after the 2021-2022 SRC identified both Bedford and Milton elementary schools for Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI).

“What put us in TSI is that our students with disabilities at Bedford and our students with free and reduced lunch at MES performed at the same level as the bottom fifth percentile in the state,” House explained. “And so we need to be cognizant of where that level is so that we’re making sure that we’re moving our target not only to close the gap within our district, but also to ensure that they don’t stay in that bottom percentile.”

House said that the English learner goal is a new requirement for the state, and explained that students who are identified as English learners use a program called ACCESS, which tests student comprehension reading, speaking, writing and listening to English. Students receive individual scores in each area, and have to reach level 3.5 or higher to test out. House said the district’s goal is for students identified as English learners to increase their scores by 1.5 levels by the time they take the ACCESS test next year.

House said that the district’s fifth goal is to improve the quality of student school climate and safety, which is measured using a color scale from red (lowest) to blue (highest). Surveys from middle and high schoolers received red rankings, while both elementary schools were orange. The goal is for each school to earn a yellow rating, with the exception of Bedford Elementary. House explained that because BES was only a tenth of a point from earning a yellow ranking on the latest survey, the goal for Bedford is to reach above yellow to the second-highest category with a green rating. House said this improvement will be made by working with staff on intentionality and ensuring that students fully understand the questions being asked on the safety and climate surveys.

The sixth goal in the improvement plan is increasing postsecondary readiness. Trimble County received a yellow ranking for postsecondary readiness, but House said there is still room for improvement.

“We were kind of on the lower end of the medium/yellow, so we’re looking to make our five-point indicator jump to get closer to that green for the postsecondary readiness,” said House. “A lot of this has to do with our kids meeting a benchmark from ACT or another similar college readiness test.” She said that dual-credit classes and career and technical education (CTE) certificates are also ways for students to improve their postsecondary readiness score. The goal of the district is to increase post-secondary readiness by five points, which maintains the yellow rating.

The seventh and final goal for the Trimble County CDIP is to increase the county’s graduation rate indicator from a yellow/medium rating to a green/high rating. The graduation rate indicator is calculated by averaging the four-year and five-year graduation rates. The CDIP reports this average as 93.6. The goal is to raise the indicator to 95 using effective monitoring and intervention techniques to place Trimble County in the green rating.

In other news, financial officer Phillip Harmon reported that expenses during December were up $89,000 over last year, but that revenue compared to last year was up almost $455,000. He said that part of the reason that expenses were higher was due to the cost of fuel for buses. The December expenses showed a $53,000 difference for transportation, with nearly half of that cost going for fuel.

Harmon also presented the first draft of the budget for the next school year. Although most details have not been finalized, he said the current draft projects expenses to be $570,000 less than revenue and 94.2% of the projected revenue is currently budgeted.

“The draft budget is the first step of the budgeting process for the next school year,” said Harmon. “This is the first of three, and this is also going to be the least accurate of the three budgets. We’ll do the tentative budget in May and the working budget, which will be the most accurate, we’ll do in September.”

The school board also heard a presentation on school nutrition and physical activity from Nutrition and Food Service Director Toni Jackson. She said that Trimble County schools are meeting the physical education guidelines based on information from the principals and PE teachers at each school.

Jackson shared that last school year, every child in the district ate for free based on Covid regulations, but that those regulations were lifted for the 2022-2023 school year. The elementary schools were designated for Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which provided the schools with federal reimbursement and allows them to offer breakfast and lunch to students at no cost based on the free and reduced meal status of the school. Jackson said she pushed for the high school to be considered for CEP so that students wouldn’t have to start paying for meals there.

“It was estimated that we were going to be losing about $2,000 a month at the high school to push [meals] to be free for all the kids,” said Jackson. “As it stands now, we have actually made money. Every month, we are feeding more, so you’re not having that $2,000 loss. We’re actually $1,183.79 ahead. Plus, we’ve got $6,486.81 more in our à la carte sales by offering kids ice cream, drinks, things like that.”

Jackson said that from August to December, the district has served 4,465 more breakfasts and 3,914 more lunches than last year.

“We’re bringing in more money, feeding more kids, offering better choices with more variety, working more before and after school, getting local foods in, doing more scratch cooking … the hard work the ladies are doing is showing by how many kids are actually participating,” said Jackson.

After swearing in new and re-elected members of the school board, Superintendent Jessica Wilcoxson recognized the board of education members for School Board Appreciation Month, celebrated in January.

“On behalf of the students, the staff, at Trimble County schools, I do want to sincerely thank you all, each and every one of you,” Wilcoxson said. “I want to thank you for being our advocates, for being our partners and being our teammates, and ensuring that we’re making the best decisions for the kids of Trimble County and also making the best decisions that we can for those that are leading these kids … and just being the great partners that you all are, and I truly appreciate all that you do.”