School board approves support funding for high school AP program

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By Joshua Shepherd

By Josh Shepherd, News writer

The Harrison County School Board approved a request for $10,000 in support funding for the high school advanced placement program to replace losses that came as a result of the expiration of 3-year AP grant.

High School Principal Amy Coleman, representing the Harrison County High School Advanced Placement Program, said that for the past three years, the AP program has flourished with the assistance of an AdvanceKy AP grant.

The grant, she explained, helped AP teachers to change the program in a way that has encouraged more students to challenge themselves academically. A significant change to the curriculum was to remove barriers that may have discouraged students from even trying to enroll in AP classes.

These and other innovations have made a positive impact on the numbers of students enrolling in AP classes, Coleman said. 

Three years ago, there was an estimated 60 students in the high school AP program, she said. This year average total enrollment for these classes are up. Teachers are working with over 400 enrolled students.

“There are students taking multiple AP classes. Those are figured into our results. But there are clearly more students enrolled in advanced placement classes than ever before,” Coleman reported.

In addition to discovering new ways to increase enrollement in AP classes, the grant also paid for students to attend special Saturday academic study programs nine times a year in a partnership between Scott and Harrison Counties.

The grant covered the entire cost of transportation and food for students participating in these sessions. And attendance for these study sessions was very good.

According to high school science teacher Robert McCann, approximately 68-75 percent of the students enrolled in the AP classes attended all of the Saturday sessions.

The teachers who participated in the extra sessions did it voluntarily, Coleman added.

The grant also paid half of the AP exam fee for students.

Unfortunately, the AdvanceKY grant was only available for three years. But the impact that the grant has made has resulted in improved test scores, including measurable improvements on ACT scores for college admission.

In order to continue, the high school is applying for a grant from Toyota to help support the AP program. 

However,  Coleman requested that the board also help maintain the momentum of this program by contributing $18,000. That money would go toward covering the cost of the Saturday sessions this academic year, Coleman said, and pay for half the cost of the AP exams for students.

Superintendent Andy Dotson informed the school board that he and Coleman had talked about her request earlier. The impact that the AP program has made on students in the last three years is undeniable, he said, and he is in full support of the school system doing what it can to sustain the program.

However, at this point, the budget won’t support an award of the entire $18,000 in Coleman’s request. Dotson said that the school system could handle $10,000 and suggested the board approve that amount. It would go first toward covering the costs of the Saturday class program, he said.

“If there is money left over, the high school can decide how they want to use it in support of the AP program,” Dotson said.

Board member Mary Jane Brunker suggested that the school system keep an eye on the budget for other opportunities to channel money to support Coleman’s entire request as the year  goes on.

However, the board took the superintendent’s  advice and approved $10,000 of financial support for the AP program.


In other business, the school board:

• Approved the high school senior trip to New York City from April 6 - 10. The trip will be during spring break. Students will be hosting fundraisers to help finance the trip. Of the senior class, about 100 students showed an interest in going on the senior trip this year. The price per student is estimated at $750 for a four day, three night tour of The Big Apple.

• Approved the school district’s working budget as presented by Julie Asher

• Approved a request from teacher Tonya Wagoner to apply for two grants that would work together to enhance French language instruction at Harrison County Schools. The “Teaching Art Together” grant, if awarded, will fund an artist-in-residence for a week. The other grant, a World Language Grant, would help fund an integrated French language program in the elementary schools. The target school for the initial program is Eastside Elementary.

• The board heard a construction update on the high school and new fieldhouse from David Case and John Gilbert. The date for project completion is estimated for around the holidays.

• Approved several dozen fundraiser requests for the high school and middle school.

• Approved the competition trips for the high school speech team.

• Approved the following athletic booster programs to  operate: Baseball Boosters, Parents for Pep, Boys Soccer Boosters, Volleyball Boosters. All four groups have complied with new Redbook requirements, Asher said. Asher also reported that she had received financial reports from the Fillies Basketball Boosters, Cross Country Boosters, Fillies Softball Boosters, and Wrestling Boosters.

• Approved Harrison County’s membership in the Central Kentucky Educational Cooperative for 2013-14.

• The next meeting of the Harrison County School Board will be on Tuesday, Oct. 29th. The board changed the date because the regularly scheduled meeting would conflict with the school’s Fall Break.

 • Fall break is scheduled for Oct. 14- 18.