ACT scores ‘amazing,’ superintendent tells board
By Suzanne Dean
MT. PLEASANT—Superintendent Sam Ray described North Sanpete High School ACT results as “amazing” as he presented the scores to the North Sanpete School Board last week.
“These are the highest scores we’ve had in years,” the superintendent told the board at a meeting Tuesday, Nov. 19.
Average scores for the 184 juniors who took the test during the 2018-19 school year ranged from 18.4 in English to 20.3 in science.
The composite score for the North Sanpete students, reflecting performance on four subject-area tests, was 19.3. (See accompanying charts.)
All of the scores were below statewide results, which is typical for districts such as North Sanpete that have high poverty rates and where many students qualify for free school lunch.
But the gaps between the North Sanpete scores and state scores were small. They ranged from North Sanpete being 0.4 points behind the statewide score in reading to being 1.1 points behind in English.
Ray said the fact North Sanpete has a significant number of students
who come from non-English-speaking homes affects English scores.
Notably, the North Sanpete scores, both on area tests in English, math, reading and science, and its composite score, have increased from three years ago.
American College Testing, which creates and scores ACT tests nationwide, publishes percentiles, which show how the numerical scores stack up for test takers nationwide.
Most of the North Sanpete and Utah scores rank below the 50th percentile, which means the majority of students nationwide did better than North Sanpete and Utah students.
That reflects who took the test, Ray told the school board. In Utah, including at North Sanpete High School, almost every junior is required to take the ACT, “not just students planning to go to the university.”
Nationwide, most of the students who take the test are college-bound and, inevitably, the higher performing students in their schools.
Nan Ault, principal at the high school, said the scores reflect North Sanpete’s school improvement plan, which focuses on bringing all students up to certain academic benchmarks.
In other discussion, Ray told the school board that under new Utah State Office of Education rules, the district must publish all the fees it intends to charge next year, with an explanation of what the money will be spent for. Then it must hold two public hearings and have a board vote to approve the fees by April.
So Ray has asked North Sanpete schools to have their fee schedules and spending plans into the district office during January.
The fees include everything from textbook fees, to fees for participating in sports teams, to charges for materials for classes such as woodworking and sewing. Low-income families can apply to have the fees waived.
On another matter, Eric Thatcher, senior sales executive with Siemens, came to the board meeting to discuss progress on the partnership between the company and the school district on $5.9 million in heating, air conditioning and lighting improvements.
In 2017, the school board approved a program under which Siemens helped the district install solar panels, energy-efficient furnaces, energy-efficient air conditioning units, LED lights and other equipment.
The goal was to bring the district’s utility costs from about $400,000 to $250,000 per year.
The money saved was to go to pay off the new equipment so the district would not have to issue bonds. And Siemens guaranteed the savings. If utility bills went above projections, the company said it would write a check to the district for the difference.
Despite an exceptionally cold winter in early 2019 and some outages in the solar panels, the savings targets for 2018-19 were met, Superintendent Ray reported.
But there have been problems with some of the new equipment. Last summer, some power bumps knocked out solar systems at both Fountain Green and Moroni Elementary. Although a one-year Siemens warranty on parts and labor for all equipment had expired, Siemens got the manufacturer of the panels to provide new parts to repair the panels.
Then a few months ago, both new boilers at North Sanpete High School failed, also after the parts-and-labor warranty had expired. Again, Siemens intervened. The manufacturer replaced one boiler and paid to reconfigure the other boiler to fix it and prevent it from going out again.
“I’ve never worked with a company that said, ‘That isn’t covered, but we’ll take care of it anyway,’” Ray said.
Due to the problems, Thatcher offered to give the district a free maintenance contract for one year so the company can monitor all of the equipment closely to make sure the system works as designed.
Ray described the offer of the free service agreement as “pretty gracious.” The school board voted to approve the agreement.