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After-hours tutoring in algebra advocated; school may issue city bus tokens to combat absenteeism

The board of Sojourner Truth Academy began its September meeting with reports on challenges ranging from academic performance to misconduct and suspensions.

Thirteen board members were present:  Robert Burvant, Sybil Favrot, Charline Wright, Keith Crawford, Elizabeth Rhodes, Anne Michaels, David Perlis, Alice Parkerson, Ryan Mast, Lawliss Turner, Reginald Flenory, Patrick Walsh and Shelly Dobard. Victoria Johnson was absent. Eleven audience members were present, including a reporter from The Lens.

Because of the high failure rate among tenth-graders taking Algebra I, the school has sought approval from the Recovery School District to offer after-school tutoring.

To combat a high suspension rate, the school wants to require that suspended students who wish to return to school must be accompanied by a parent and must sign a behavior contract.

Attendance remains a problem, as it was last year. Board member Patrick Walsh read from monthly reports: “Some students come once a week. They don’t even skip [classes], they just don’t come” – often because they missed the bus. To mitigate that problem, the school wants to provide more options for students, one being tokens allowing them to use city transportation if they miss the school bus.

The school also hopes to inaugurate “academic conferences,” allowing one-on-one meetings between students and teachers to discuss goals. Teachers also want closer ties to parents. An Open House was scheduled for  5 p.m. Sept. 22.

Faculty also want to reduce student misconduct, such as dress code violations, unruly behavior while changing classes and showing disrespect to teachers.

The school expects to learn by Dec. 1 whether it has been successful in applying for a $200,000 grant.

A decrease in enrollment has reduced transportation costs by paring the bus fleet to four, from last year’s six, board members learned.

The meeting ended with the board going into an executive session from which the public was excluded. The reason was to discuss confidential budget matters, member Robert Burvant said. Burvant said he hopes to have a budget ready for approval at the next board meeting, Oct. 18 at 5:30 P.M.

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