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Council member wants elementary school test scores higher

Posted on Friday, October 4, 2013 at 10:00 pm

BOWLING GREEN—Bowling Green Town Council member Glenn McDearmon wants to see reading test scores go higher at Bowling Green Elementary School, he told fellow council members on Oct. 3.

“Teachers are working hard,” but Bowling Green Elementary has “lower test scores” in reading and “I think we can make some impact,” McDearmon told the council during a regular monthly meeting.

According to the Virginia Department of Education, Bowling Green Elementary’s pass rates for the reading portion of the Virginia Standards of Learning test were: 73 for the third grade; 75 for the fourth grade; and 71 for the fifth grade. Lewis & Clark Elementary’s pass rates were: 77 for the third grade; 79 for the fourth; and 86 for the fifth grade. Yet Madison Elementary’s pass rates were: 72 for the third grade; 72 for the fourth grade; and 63 for the fifth grade. These were the results of tests taken during the 2012-2013 school year.

This is the first school year for consolidation of Bowling Green Primary School and Bowling Green Elementary. Bowling Green Elementary recently underwent a $10 million expansion and renovation to accommodate the consolidation. A ribbon-cutting and dedication of the school is scheduled for Nov. 8.

“I want us to see if there is some way kids on this side of the county can improve their scores,” McDearmon told council members. “The test scores are just not really good. The superintendent is doing a pretty good job. But we need to see if there is something we can do to help.”

Mayor David Storke noted, “If they’re not reading at the right level in the second grade, they will never catch up.”

“If you teach phonics, a child can read 2,500 words by the second grade,” McDearmon said.

After the meeting, McDearmon noted, “We’re in really bad shape” at Bowling Green Elementary. “It’s an issue of people being pushed through our schools that shouldn’t.”

He said West Point schools had low reading scores. But the school system there spent $17,000 on teaching phonics and a year later, the test scores had greatly improved.

Part of the problem is in the home, where, in some cases, parents are not good readers. “I heard a second grader from Bowling Green Elementary was teaching a parent to read,” McDearmon said.

He suggested that the town council put together a committee to study the problem.

McDearmon plans to “sit down and talk” with Caroline School Superintendent Greg Killough, Caroline School Board Chairwoman Nancy Carson and George L. Spaulding Jr., who represents the Bowling Green District on the School Board.

After the meeting, Storke said, “Maybe the town could provide funds for a literacy specialist. This is something we could discuss at a future meeting.”

In other business, Councilor Mark Bissoon reported that something needs to be done about “the noise, fumes and speeding of trucks” through town. He suggested that the town work with the Virginia Department of Transportation “on the possibility of diverting truck traffic.”

In other business, the council discussed the possibility of placing video cameras around downtown Bowling Green.

“We could put in cameras for the town, and businesses can add on,” McDearmon said.

“It’s not a privacy issue,” the mayor said. “No one would be monitoring the cameras.”

“Cameras don’t deter crime, but they are there to track it,” McDearmon.

In other business, the council heard from Town Manager Stephen Manster that the town’s zoning codes do not currently allow assisted living facilities. However, the council and the town’s planning commission will conduct a joint meeting to go over proposed amendments to the zoning laws that would allow an assisted living facility within the town’s borders.

The proposed amendment defines assisted living facility as a place where elderly residents could maintain a semi-independent lifestyle and not require more intensive nursing care as provided in a nursing home.

In addition, the minimum lot size would be three acres. The maximum height would be 60 feet and the maximum density would be 30 units per acre.

It would have appropriate screening when adjacent to any single or two-family residences.