Salisbury to get science and math academy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Sarah Nagem
Salisbury Post
After a split vote from the school board, Salisbury High School is getting a math and science academy.
And it won’t cost the school system a dime.
On Monday, the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education approved the academy 4-3.
Windsor Eagle, principal at Salisbury High, told the board that students often fall behind in those subjects.
“We’ve got to have more math and science,” he said.
The goal is to draw rising seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders from all over the county to a two-week pre-academy program this summer.
The seventh- and eighth-graders will return to their middle schools for the regular curriculum after the summer break. The ninth-graders will enter Salisbury High with a rigorous schedule of math and science courses.
Students can enter the distinguished-scholar track or the honors-scholar track.
Distinguished scholars must earn at least a B in 12 required math and science classes, maintain a grade-point average of 3.7 in the required classes and score at least 1,150 on the SAT.
Honors scholars must earn at least a B in 12 classes, including advanced-placement environmental science. They also must maintain a 4.0 grade-point average in the required classes and score at least 1,250 on the SAT.
Students in both tracks must intend to major in math or science in college.
A few years from now, the top five graduates in the honors-scholars program will earn a scholarship to Catawba College in the amount of $17,000 to $20,000, Eagle said.
The top five graduates in the distinguished-scholars program will earn a scholarship to Catawba worth $8,000 to $10,000, he said.
Catawba will provide that money, Eagle said.
The first year, the program will cost $25,000. That’s $12,000 for summer-program teachers, $10,000 for staff development and $3,000 for supplies.
A private donor will foot that bill, Eagle said.
Board members Kay Wright Norman, Jean Kennedy, Bryce Beard and Dr. Jim Emerson voted in favor of the academy.
Karen Carpenter, Patty Williams and Linda Freeze voted against it. Their issue, they said, was transportation.
Students will have to find their own way to get to the summer program. And students who don’t live in the Salisbury district but want to attend that school permanently for the academy can’t ride the bus.
Norman made a motion to approve the academy “with every effort being made to provide transportation to every student throughout the district.”
But busing students is expensive, Eagle said. He suggested the school board pay for transportation.
The school system has plans to give eighth- and ninth-graders a survey about which academies, or academic concentrations, they would like in their schools.
But the survey isn’t out yet, and Carpenter said the school board hasn’t yet hashed out the logistics of academies.
“I wouldn’t be able to support any academy at any school until we (talk about) those issues first,” she said. That comment drew some applause from the audience, mostly North Rowan High School supporters.
Norman initially made a motion to approve a summer program at Salisbury without the academy.
“That’s not what he’s asking for,” Emerson said. “This is a package deal, the way I see it.”
Norman said she thought she understood Salisbury’s motives. “You want students at your school, so you’re trying to provide every possible way to get them there.”
Williams suggested the board table the issue until its June 9 retreat. But Eagle said it would be impossible to staff the summer program that late in the game.
Also during the meeting:
– The school board announced the hiring of four new principals.
James Victor Davis II will be the new principal at China Grove Middle. Davis is currently the assistant principal of instruction at Northwest Cabarrus Middle.
Nancy Barkemeyer will take the helm at West Rowan Middle. She is currently the principal of Eastway Middle School, part of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
James A. Griffin was chosen for the top spot at Hanford Dole Elementary. He is the principal at Griffth Academy.
Ricky D. Dunlap will take over at Koontz Elementary. He is the assistant principal at Knollwood Elementary.
– Several supporters of North Rowan high school asked the board to help boost the school’s enrollment.
Superintendent Dr. Judy Grissom said the public seems to have a perception that the school administration is not doing all it can for North Rowan. That’s not true, she said.
North Rowan gets $840,000 more than the county’s other high schools, Grissom said.
North has five more teachers than the state allotment calls for, and teachers get bonuses for teaching there, she said.