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Testing shows progress but weak spots remain; attendance tops 97%; dropouts at zero

Quarterly benchmarks for and math language comprehension were a focus of attention at the monthly meeting of the Dryades Y James M Singleton Charter School board of directors, March 13.

Testing of third- through eighth-graders shows progress, principal Melrose Biagas told the board. About 40 percent of students in this age group demonstrated basic comprehension in both math and science. Another 5 to 15 percent showed mastery or advanced knowledge. Rough spots remain, however. A majority of fourth- and sixth-graders failed to achieve basic levels in language arts, and a majority of sixth-graders also fell short in math. Nonetheless, “second quarter numbers are on the rise, especially when compared to last term,” Biagas said.

Diane Williams, the special-education coordinator, reported to the board on students with disabilities. Singleton currently serves 58 students who require exceptional services, with needs ranging from autism to artistic inclination.  One hundred and twenty students presently receive 504 accommodations, including beneficial testing environments such as small group size and assistive technology.

A high spot of the meeting was word that Singleton’s attendance rate stands at 97.5 percent and there have been no dropouts. The attendance number reflects the school’s hard-line stance as well as staff engagement of both students and parents to prevent absenteeism.

Chief financial officer Katrina Reed reported that bank reconciliations for November and December are up to date, except for a small sum, and that all accounts are in good standing.

In pursuit of Title IV money, Singleton has applied for a Pell Grant and expects approval by March.  The amount, which does not need to be repaid, depends on a school’s financial needs.

In other financial news, the Dryades Y continues its collaborative effort to raise money for infrastructure needs. Coordinator Jay Banks drew attention to billboards around town as evidence of the campaign’s impressive scale. “We are trying to raise money and raise people up on equal footing,” Banks said.

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