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TCS Board of Education approves teacher raises, discusses new Sonday Program

By Shaun Szkolnik, for the Tribune

TRUSSVILLE – The Trussville City Schools Board of Education met Monday, July 9, at 8 a.m.

Superintendent Dr. Pattie Neill addressed the board about a new pilot program that will be launched in the three Trussville elementary schools.

“Sonday is a special reading program for struggling readers,” said Neill. “Dyslexic students plus others that are having trouble with reading. We have a remediation program in tiers; tiers one, two and three. The Sonday Program will be used with those severe students. The State Department wanted to pilot this in one of our schools. I talked to the state department … and we now have it piloted in all three elementary schools.”

Neill said that the program uses many of the Orton-Gillingham techniques. The system employs multi-sensory methods to help children process and differentiate between words and letters that might be confusing to them.

“What we wanted to do was implement it in three elementary schools this year and be hyper-focused on the fidelity of the program,” said Neill. “Miss (Beth) Bruno has agreed to come back and do that. So, she is retired and will come back and do part-time contract and implement the Sonday Program.”

Neill discussed some of the techniques that will be used.

“It will have tools in the toolbox like sandpaper letters for children that might reverse a ‘b’ and a ‘d’,” said Neill. “(They) can feel them and see them. It is very kinesthetic.”

The board also approved an increase in the salary schedule.

“We have worked diligently for the last 45 days since the legislature closed out with the 4% required raise, Mr. Kirkland and I have been comparing Trussville salary schedules with surrounding districts,” said Neill. “That is one thing, we want to be competitive and maintain our completion for the best and brightest teachers in Trussville. They would come here instead of some of our metro competitors.”

Another concern that has prompted an increase in the salary schedule is the teacher shortage. The state legislature and school systems are interested in attracting young adults into the teaching profession with higher wages.

Trussville City Schools is adding an additional 1% to the 4% required raise.

In other news, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, Mandi Logan, addressed the board about a proposal for a psychologist for the schools’ system.

“We are great at a lot of things and one of those things is our special education program,” said Logan. “That attracts a lot of people to move here from other school systems … we are, I feel like, at a point where initial evaluations need to come to form something a little more robust than what we currently have … most school systems have someone who performs the evaluations, some contact it out and some don’t, but it is a psychometrist. A psychometrist is someone who has gone to school, most of them have a teaching degree and they’ve gone back and gotten the classes to give an educational test … what they are not trained to do, that a psychologist is trained to do, is then spot variances and patterns within those tests to maybe understand the need to go deeper or do a different type of test. So, when we encounter those situations a lot of times we have to do outside testing … that is very costly. A lot of times it is not timely and so we have kids waiting to be evaluated, so it is a more robust process for those initial referrals.”

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