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The percentage scale for grades is now the same at Johnson Crossing Academic Center and Fremont Middle School as it is at Fremont High School.

That change was approved Monday night when the Fremont Public Schools Board of Education met.

Students at all three schools will be graded on a 10-point scale — something officials believe will make them more competitive for scholarships and college opportunities.

Board members voted to have the 10-point scale at JCAC and FMS to match that at the high school.

FHS went to the 10-point scale during the 2018-2019 school year.

In the past, FHS used a 7-point scale, so a student at FHS had to score a 93 or above to obtain an A.

“When we were on that scale, we had a student who might have a 93 competing with a student from another school who had a 90; both had As. We had kids who had a 90 — that was a B — who wouldn’t even be looked at for a scholarship compared to a student from another district who had a 90 that equaled an A,” said Kate Heineman, executive director of teaching and learning, for FPS.

Using the 10-point scale puts FHS students on a level playing field for scholarships and college admissions.

Putting JCAC and FMS students on the same 10-point grading scale provides consistency, Heineman said.

FPS elementary schools will continue to use the “standards-based” grading system, which uses a scale of one to four to assess how deeply a student understands course material, broken down by skill and grade level, and accompanied by additional information that helps parents understand what that number means.

The board also voted to adopt the revised Option Enrollment Policy, which sets the maximum number of students in any class or program for the 2019-2020 school year.

FPS provides the choice for students to transfer to other schools.

Parents, who want to transfer their student to a certain school in the FPS district, have a Sept. 1 deadline to submit an application.

Under the policy, the school district also sets capacities — by grade levels — for the number of students who can option enroll.

Throughout the district, the policy states that a total of 20 option enrollment students will be allowed at each grade level in the FPS system.

Brad Dahl, FPS associate superintendent, provided an example.

For instance, if a student wants to option enroll into Washington Elementary and the sections are full, the student can choose a secondary option, like Bell Field.

So if a particular class at Washington Elementary School has 23 and thus, is full, the student could have a choice of going to Bell Field, where a class might have just 17 students.

The projected enrollment for kindergarten students is 320 with a program capacity of 340 – so the number of option enrollment students is 20 total for that grade level.

FPS is has no capacity to take option enroll students in the area of special education.

The state average for students with verified disabilities in a district is approximately 15%, whereas it is 19% at FPS. Thus, 19% of FPS students have a verified disability.

“We’re above the average and that is why we’re at capacity,” Dahl told the Tribune.

In other business, board members approved changes in employee handbooks for 2019-2020.

One of those alterations included a change in the pay rate for substitute teachers.

“We have a lot of difficulty getting enough substitutes, particularly as the year progresses,” said Kevin Eairleywine, executive director of human resources and elementary operations.

In the past, the daily rate for a full day was $145.

With the change, a substitute teacher will be paid a $145 daily rate for the first 30 days.

But after that, if the substitute teacher has reached the equivalent of 30 days’ work time – based on the hours of a teacher day, because they’re assigned by hours – the teacher’s pay would go to $155 daily rate for days 31-60.

After 60 days, the rate increases to a $165 daily rate.

Both of these rates are based on the total equivalent teacher day hours worked.

Also added is a $192.97 daily rate for long-term (10 consecutive days or longer for the same teacher).

Eairleywine said the rationale behind this payroll procedure is to entice the substitute teachers to work more days and to make sure they stick around in the spring, when there is a dire need for substitutes.

He said this is pay-rate technique used by school districts in Sioux City and Columbus. He obtained the idea from their human relations directors and ran it by the FPS administration.

FPS Superintendent Mark Shepard said he appreciates Eairlywine’s efforts to find incentives, because “it has been a struggle, particularly in the spring, when we have some springs sports, field trips and other activities that occur that really are not avoidable and it puts a real crunch on our classroom teachers if we don’t have enough subs.”

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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