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Harney board approves contracts to enhance ESL and Common Core instruction

Noting that another non-English-speaking student had enrolled that morning, Eileen Williams, principal of Edgar P. Harney Spirit of Excellence Academy, convinced board members at Monday night meeting to approve a $7,250 contract with Imagine Learning.

Imagine Learning is a program that assists English-language learners, special needs students, and students who struggle with reading skills. There are 13 non-English speaking students currently enrolled at the school.

“This is not a luxury, this is a necessity,” board president Charles Southall said as the board voted to approve the contract.

The board also approved a $33,000 contract with the Achievement Network, a non-profit organization used by several local charters. The organization helps schools transition to Common Core curricular standards and to maintain data on student performance. Harney previously paid $54,000 annually for similar services from Target Teach.

In further preparation for Common Core standards, the board approved $18,400 in new math workbooks and teaching materials. Current math books were purchased when the school opened in 2005 and would not comply with the new standards.

To address a worn out air-conditioning unit, the board approved a $19,000 maintenance contract with Johnson Controls. Chief financial officer Brent Washington said he did not think the contract would affect the budget because funds had already been set aside for incidental repairs.

The annual audit faulted the school only for submitting the document an hour and a half past the state deadline, accountant Melvin Davis told the board. Davis suggested, however, that the board include minutes of pay raises and bonuses approved at board meetings and record cash receipts more consistently.

The next board meeting will be June 2 at 6 p.m.

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