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College credits in high school?

Hall students will have that opportunity

SPRING VALLEY – Students at Hall High School will be given the opportunity to take dual credit classes starting in the spring of 2015.  The board unanimously approved the new policy which will allow seniors to attend college classes during the winter semester, while earning both high school and college credits.

This program is a privilege for academically-motivated students, and therefore, standards to participate are high. Students must have a 4.0 grade point average out of 5.0; must have not missed more than three days of school the prior semester with no unexcused absences; must have an exemplary discipline record; and student will need to write a 500-word essay. Students also will need two recommendations from teachers and will complete a selection interview with the administration and guidance department. Students will pay their own college tuition and fees.

Also at Wednesday’s school board meeting, the board approved the school’s Code of Conduct policy for the next school year, following a lengthy discussion. One major change is that student athletes who violate the Code of Conduct shall not be recommended for any All Conference Team awards during the season in which they violate the code, and they will not be able to serve as a team captain in any sport throughout their high school career.

The second major change is that a student athlete who self reports to a coach or sponsor within 48 hours of being charged or ticketed for a felony, misdemeanor or any act that is prohibited by the Code of Conduct will have their consequences reduced by 25 percent on their first offense only. If the student enrolls in an approved counseling program, the consequences shall be reduced by an additional 25 percent.

Superintendent Mike Struna also provided the board with academic growth data. The data clearly shows the interventions being implemented for freshmen are working. Students are given the Explore Test in eighth grade and then again in ninth grade. In English, 52 percent of the students were at benchmark as eighth-graders, and 76 percent were at benchmark in ninth grade. In reading 49 percent were at benchmark as eighth-graders and 62 percent as ninth-graders. In math 37 percent were at benchmark as eighth-graders and 66 percent as ninth-graders.

The scores did not show as much improvement for sophomores and juniors. Struna indicated this is any area of concern and will be addressed by the Response to Intervention Program (RTI).

Struna was also excited to share the projected 2014 graduation rate will be 87 percent, which is up from 78 percent in 2013. Of the 13 students who did not graduate with their class, seven transferred to Hall after their freshmen year.

Assistant Principal Angie Carpenter and counselor Brittney Berger discussed the RTI Program for the 2014-15 school year. The program provides interventions for all students by their classroom teacher and homeroom teacher but with more extensive interventions for students receiving Ds and Fs in classes. Carpenter is hoping these interventions help reach those sophomores and juniors who are not meeting benchmark.

Every Tuesday, teachers will be required to turn in grades, and the RTI team will monitor them and take action accordingly. Every Wednesday, classes will be shortened to provide a 52-minute homeroom for RTI.

During this homeroom, students will have the chance to meet with their RTI case manager or counselor, receive tutoring help from National Honor Society tutors, meet with their teachers for additional support, and will have access to the computer labs to complete assignments.

Juniors and seniors who do not have any Ds or Fs will be allowed to leave school at 1:58 p.m. every Wednesday. Struna hopes this encourages those students to do better.

Another addition to the RTI program is that all students will participate in half day activities that support college and career readiness and the Pathways Initiative. Students will be given the opportunity to learn about goal setting, educational planning, and career exploration, as well as organizational and study skills. Students will also have the opportunity to attend field trips to IVCC and the Area Career Center.

Action was taken on several extracurricular programs. The board approved the wrestling co-op with Putnam County High School. The girls’ soccer program was dropped due to a lack of participation. Freshmen football will continue for one year and then be re-evaluated. Freshmen girls’ basketball will be evaluated in September after the organizational meeting, and a coach will be hired if there is enough interest. Freshmen boys’ basketball will continue, since there is a high interest. Struna said, “Money is tight, and we need to keep our eyes on these programs.”

Also at the meeting, Tony Orlandi of Leopardo Construction updated the board on the progress of the construction of the new Hall High School. The electrical trade package for Bid No. 3B was awarded to JB Contracting earlier in the month, and the remaining two trades are still being reviewed by the project team.

Bid packages for finishes, miscellaneous steel, carpentry, site improvements and demolition are currently in the final stages of design and expected to be available for subcontractor bidding in July.

Orlandi said, “The project is going well and is currently meeting its budget, schedule and performance goals. We are very pleased with the local participation of on-site tradesmen to date.”

In other news:

• The board recognized several students who had qualified for state in track.

• The six new employees were introduced to the board.

• Struna provided the board with data showing the benefits of leasing a second activity bus. The board will vote on that next month.

The next meeting is set for 6 p.m. July 16 in the library.

Comment on this story at

Struna clarifies tax rates
SPRING VALLEY — Hall High School Superintendent Mike Struna released the following statement at the Hall High School Board meeting Wednesday night.
“With the recent release of property tax bills in Bureau County, the Hall High School Board of Education would like to clarify the tax rate increase levied by the Hall High School Board of Education was consistent with the rate increase that was acknowledged during the referendum.
“The rate increase of $1.05 was the projected rate increase at the time of the referendum vote, and the actual rate increase that taxpayers are seeing this month is in fact $1.05.
“In December of 2013, when the Hall High School Board of Education reviewed the proposed tax levy, the rate at that time was projected to increase by $1.12 due to the fact that the EAV in Hall Township did not increase by the 1 percent as was projected at the time of the referendum campaign. Consequently, the board of education reduced the customary tax rate in the Building Fun by two cents and also reduced the customary tax rate in the Health, Life Safety Fund by five cents. The result of the reduction in these two funds reduced the final tax levy increase down to $1.05, which was indicated by the board during the referendum campaign.
“The Hall High School Board of Education will continue to review the annual tax levy for the purpose of keeping the rate as low as possible while still providing an effective education for the students of Hall Township High School. The board also appreciates the ongoing and generous financial support of the taxpayers of Hall Township.”

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