The Whitehall Board of Education heaped praise upon district treasurer Steve McAfee last week, filing a near-perfect job-approval rating and a new three-year contract.

The Whitehall Board of Education heaped praise upon district treasurer Steve McAfee last week, filing a near-perfect job-approval rating and a new three-year contract.

McAfee has been the district's treasurer for only a year but has proven his ability to hit the floor running, said board members, who spent nearly 30 minutes in executive session Sept. 12 to weigh his performance.

The annual review resulted in a score of 3.876 on a 4.0 scale, board president Walter Armes said following the deliberations.

"The board is very pleased with the work he's been doing," Armes said. "He received a very positive evaluation."

Armes said McAfee came to the district amid a $78 million construction project, is in the throes of planning for 12 new classrooms to address overcrowding and had two out of three longtime staff members retire earlier this year, taking years of historical knowledge with them.

"He's extremely skilled," Armes said, adding that McAfee has stepped into his predecessor's shoes quite nicely.

McAfee will not get a pay raise with his positive review, though.

"His salary is frozen just like everyone else's," Armes said.

Whitehall agreed to pay McAfee an annual salary of $110,000 plus a benefits package totaling some $26,700 when he was hired in August 2012.

In other news, Dave Hausmann, the district's director of facilities and transportation, outlined new safety measures to protect district facilities and community members after dark. New lighting and better-directed cameras will be installed at area schools in an effort to provide better protection and monitoring when class is not in session.

New signs will be installed on district property and on playgrounds to indicate school areas are closed at dusk. The posting gives local law enforcement the authority to escort anyone off school property after dark.

"Keep Out" signs will be posted and gates locked at school retention ponds in an effort to keep children away from potentially dangerous areas.

New playground rules will be posted outside school property so that equipment will be used properly by community members during daylight hours.

Maintenance personnel will make daily rounds when they arrive at school and will look for damaged property or unsafe conditions every morning. An annual assessment will re-evaluate the role of law enforcement in and around buildings and will monitor facilities and grounds conditions as they pertain to school safety.

The new signs and procedures are in response to requests by board members who were concerned about unsafe conditions like low lighting at the new schools.

Also on Sept. 12, board members unanimously agreed to modify the district's dress code at both the middle and high school levels to allow for "predominately" white, black, brown and gray school shoes, with no more than one accent color.

Susie Carr, the district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, also took time to compare last year's and this year's state report cards, pointing out significant progress made by teachers despite what appears to be a poorer overall rating under the new grading system.

"Our performance-index (score) shows we are consistently improving student performance," Carr told board members. "And our value-added (score) also shows that students are growing over time."

Although some areas still do not meet state benchmarks, the district showed gains in the number of students reaching the advanced and accelerated levels. The district also jumped more than 12 percent in its five-year graduation rate.

"We are constantly working with a moving target," Armes said, referring to the often changing report cards.