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Dropout rate holds ECHS behind

By By Kerry Whipple-Bean
The dropout rate that kept W.S. Neal High School and Escambia County High School from reaching state-mandated goals for progress were actually based on year-old data, county assistant superintendent Mary Beth Powell told school board members Thursday.
Because of the way the state compiled the information, state high schools had to use the numbers from the previous year.
But the school district is working with both schools to decrease the dropout rate, she said.
"A lot of times they just move and go (somewhere) and we can't track them," she said. "We need to make sure we know that they're enrolled somewhere."
The school district has spent time and money this summer on dropout prevention programs.
In addition to math and reading goals, high schools in the state must maintain a certain graduation rate to earn their Adequate Yearly Progress goals under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Escambia County and Neal high schools made the reading and math goals but did not improve their graduate rates. If a school misses just one goal, it does not meet Adequate Yearly Progress. Goals are based on academic improvement and test participation across several different demographic groups.
But school district officials praised students and teachers this year for meeting AYP. This is the first year that all schools have met all of the academic goals other than the two high school graduation rates.
In other business Thursday:
"It's a good idea," assistant superintendent Randall Little said. "(The Internet) gives us mass exposure."
Leave of absence: Paula Joyner, homebound teacher, Flomaton Special Education and Student Services Office; Annie McNeal, custodian, Escambia County Middle School
Retirement: Becky McClelland, teacher aide, W.S. Neal High School; Virginia B. Salter, P.E. aide, W.S. Neal High School
Resignation: Deneise Larkin, counselor, Escambia County Middle School; Francisca Gloria Van Arsdale, teacher, W.S. Neal High School; Stephanie Abbott, fifth-grader reading teacher, ECMS
Employment: Aleshia Salter, fourth-grade teacher, W.S. Neal Elementary; Jason Taylor, transportation mechanic, Atmore Bus Shop; Matthew Moore, special education teacher, W.S. Neal Middle School; Mary Ellen Byron, fifth-grade math teacher, W.S. Neal Middle School; Janice Kidd, P.E. teacher, Escambia County Middle School; Alice McMillan, Indian education aide, Huxford Elementary School; Betty Thompson, alternative route, Brewton Bus Shop; Candice Carnley, part-time custodian, Pollard-McCall Junior High School
Employment change: Frenchie Dewayne Goodman, seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher, ECMS, to seventh-grade English teacher, ECMS
Temporary employment: Amber Amstrong, student office aide, Brewton Central Office; Nikki Watkins, CNP worker, Atmore Central Office; Helen Lassiter, CNP worker, Atmore Central Office
Rehires: Catherine Autumn Brown, special education teacher, W.S. Neal Elementary School; Julie McDonald, kindergarten teacher, Rachel Patterson Elementary; Brenda Powers, seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher, ECMS; Angela Tingle, fifth-grade reading teacher, ECMS.