IRSD talks renovations

The Indian River School District School Board met on July 26 to discuss — among a variety of items — the progress of local school renovations and to release the district’s Delaware State Testing Program results.

The new Indian River High School should be up and ready to go when school starts this fall. Contractors are tweaking the technology systems and should be finished next week. The baseball and softball fields are the last to be finished and grading on both fields will be finished in the next two weeks.

The Lord Baltimore renovation project had to jostle around a bit in order to achieve some progress while awaiting permits and approval from the fire marshal.

School officials are awaiting an OK from the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) to build a construction entrance and an entrance on Route 26 from the school. They are also awaiting approval from the fire marshal to begin reconstruction of the interior of the school.

The cafeteria and administrative areas have been deemed by those on the building committee to be the most of need of renovation — though it is still unclear whether or not the delay obtaining the necessary permits will impact the construction schedule.

Site demolition started last week and 50 percent of authorized interior demolition has been completed thus far.

Workers at the new Sussex Central High School are in the process of completing their renovation projects and shoring up the security systems. The floor replacement project was estimated to be 50 percent complete by July 27.

The leaks in C, D and E sectors of that school have been addressed by the roofer, and Section A (the theater/auditorium) has been checked for lighting and sound. The security system is currently being checked by John L. Briggs and appropriate adjustments were to be made to the hardware.

The irrigation system for Sussex Central High School is up and running, and all the fields are ready except for the softball field.

The installation of the duct work and piping at Georgetown Middle School was started two weeks later than scheduled but was not expected to impact the finish date.

The Millsboro Middle School project is currently $3 million over-budget, and the architect and engineering team on the project can’t go forward with their designs until the board is clear about what kind of budget they will have to work with.

Suggestions made by the Buildings and Grounds Committee at their next meeting (Aug. 8) will be taken into consideration by the contractors in order to cut the deficit of the project.

The Indian River High School soccer team may have to wait a few years to have a field that — in the words of Head Coach Howard Gerken — is “optimum” for soccer. For the time being, the IRHS soccer program will have to share facilities with all the other turf sports.

As announced at the July 26 meeting, the DSTP results are in and the Indian River School District led almost every other school district in math, writing and reading.

President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative raised the bar for academic achievement across the country though testing goals, but in Sussex County the minimum passing mark for reading is 62, up from 57.

Among IRSD third-graders, 95 percent of third graders read at the state standard. That number increased to 96 percent among fifth graders. Eighth-graders have improved from 73 percent meeting the standard to 78 percent — compared to the statewide 71 percent average.

IRSD 10th-graders have seen the sharpest increase in reading achievement since 2003, rising from 62 percent meeting the standard to 80 percent in 2005.

Delaware third-graders scored a cumulative 69 percent in this testing year for reading, but the IRSD students achieved an 80-percent mark.

In three years, IRSD third-graders have improved from 45 percent to 80 percent, while fifth- and eighth-graders dipped slightly. Tenth-graders improved slightly, up to 80 percent.

East Millsboro and Frankford elementaries earned special distinction by both ranking in the high 90-percent range in reading and math on the state tests.

IRSD students have moved up the ladder in math: eighth-graders improved from 41 percent meeting the standard to 62 percent, while 10th-graders improved from 41 percent to 59 percent. Both third- and fifth-graders increased from 80 percent to 90 percent.

Overall, IRSD students scored 68 percent cumulatively. The state standard is 52 percent.

School officials have recently reevaluated the existing testing schedule and have decided to rearrange the test order in hopes of further improving their rising scores.

It had been noted that, in the past, the math portion of the test had always been the last subject out of the three to be tested and, generally, the students were tired of the whole process by that point.

School officials determined that the earlier the math test is completed, the better the scores will be. So, to maximize their students’ capabilities, in the first week of testing, school officials will administer the math section of the test on that Thursday and Friday, so the students’ minds are fresh.

Early the following week, students will take the reading test, and the writing test will follow that on Wednesday and Thursday.

School meal prices were also increased slightly. The cost of breakfast went up a dime to 60 cents, and lunch prices for both elementary and secondary schools went up 15 cents (to $1 and $1.10, respectively). Adult lunches will cost $1.75.

The IRSD School Board’s next meeting will take place at the North Georgetown Elementary School cafeteria on Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. The board will not meet in August.