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Site Council Minutes for January

by Debbie Berges

January 18, 2011

U.S.D. #322 Site Council Minutes
January 5, 2011

            The Site Council of U.S.D. #322 was called to order by Chairperson Roy Duer at 6:35 in the school library.  Those in attendance were Sheri Bartel, Debbie Berges, Sharon Bosse, Roy Duer, Jeanette Eisenbarth, Arlene Jacobsen, Daun Krohn, Dr. Fred Marten, Mary Pennington, Dan Peters, Amy Spoonts, and Sandra Zahn.  It was noted that minutes had been approved via e-mail in the two weeks following the last meeting.  

            In her report on the Onaga Elementary School, Principal Sandra Zahn shared a concern that has been expressed by many teachers lately as they are preparing students for the state assessments.  With school starting two weeks later this year, this gives the teachers two less weeks in which to instruct the students on the indicators.  There is concern that the results of the state assessments will reflect this lack of instructional time.

            In an update on the MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Support) system being implemented in the elementary grade levels, Ms. Zahn shared a handout showing the baseline scores of the initial AIMSweb testing in the fall versus the winter scores.  Amy provided further explanation of these scores.  It was questioned about some of the composite class scores which fell from the fall to the winter testing.  Part of the answer to this decline in scores is the number of new students entering OGS since the first of the school year with gaps in their academic achievement.  The junior high alone has received 16 new students since the first of the school year.  The high school has experienced an influx of students as well as the lower elementary grades.  These students are tested along with all of the other students and will be tested on the State Assessments.  The expectations for the different testing dates also increase.  So maybe during the fall a student had to read 80 words correct per minute to be at benchmark, but on the winter test, that same student had to read 100 words correct per minutes to be at benchmark.  The results showed improvement at various levels and this was after approximately three weeks of implementing the MTSS model.  When we test again in the spring, we would expect to see even more improvement since the program will have been implemented for several months as opposed to a few weeks.

            The AIMSweb is a diagnostic test given to determine how close students are to reaching benchmark indicators in reading.  Grouping for additional instructional time is based solely on the AIMSweb scores; it is not reflective of special education placements.  Statistically, 80% of the students in each class should be meeting 100% of indicated benchmarks, or certain sets of reading skills.  Of the remaining 20%, 15% will need an additional 30 minutes daily of instructional time to reach the 100% while 5% will need focused instruction of up to an hour extra a day in small groups of 3 or 4 students.  The challenge is to have enough manpower to provide this type of instruction.  Currently, many of the fine arts and physical education instructors are helping with the small group instruction.  Additionally, OGS has three parent volunteers coming in to help with the reading time with students.  The question came up of what the students are missing in order to receive this type of additional instructional time to which Ms. Zahn responded that, at the current time, they miss the fine arts classes.  Staff members are working hard at developing a class schedule for next year that would avoid this time away from the elective classes.  Next year math will be added to the targeted subjects.  

            Even though the MTSS program is not mandated at this time by the State of Kansas, it is highly endorsed as an effective way to remediate students as well as enhance students already meeting benchmarks.  By 2013, 100% of students will need to be meeting benchmarks in reading and math.  Dan inquired as to the benchmarks for science and social studies, which at the current time, are not the accountable academic areas by the current State goals.

            Discussion was held concerning how to involve parents more directly in the school system since there is not an organized PTA group.  It was noted, however, that there is a group of parents who do a fund-raiser each year in order to provide funds to the teachers for various uses.  

            It was recommended by the Site Council that parents be reminded that their students are to be in attendance at athletic events with the parent and not be allowed to run loose throughout the evening.  Complimentary passes were issued to all students by the Board of Education with the understanding that students were to be accompanied by parents to the games.  It is recommended that a student who is not behaving at an event be escorted to their parents and if they are allowed by parents to continue their disruptive behavior that both the parents and the child should be asked to leave.   In situations where the parents are not in attendance, they should be contacted by phone to come and pick up their child as soon as possible and the student pass should be revoked.  That particular student can pay from that point on to attend events.  Keeping children with their parents for the event allows for better enjoyment and safety of all spectators.  The Council recommended that before each competition begins, an announcement to the effect of parents watching their children be made and that this same reminder be placed in the programs.

            Dr. Marten reported on a legislative luncheon he attended, noting that the discussions evolve around cuts to programs as the way to balance the state budget.  With the stimulus monies running out this academic school year, it is anticipated that USD #322 will receive $300 to $350 less per pupil for the 2011-2012 school year.  The current per pupil state reimbursement is $4012.  Dr. Marten encouraged each member to contact state legislators with educational funding concerns.  

            Onaga High School is evaluating four different kinds of software as a way to implement MTSS at this level.  Some of these software programs would allow for credit completion.  The software is expensive.

            Debbie Berges reported on the Friends of USD #322, noting that there is now a tab on the school web site for the Friends.  Friends have awarded a grant to the school system for a portable public address system.  Friends will be hosting a benefit for the school system on January 14 when the Harlem Ambassadors come to play a game of basketball against local talent.

            Six school board positions open up at the end of this term due to some terms expiring and some terms being completed for an elected board member that resigned.  Arlene Jacobsen is the sole board member not up for re-election.  At the present time, neither Arlene nor Dr. Marten knew of any filings.   Filing deadline is January 25.  Elections will be held in April.  Dr. Marten will write an article for the Herald explaining how this number of positions became open and the process for filing.  Roy volunteered to speak to the Herald about an article or ad promoting filing to run for a school board position.  Closer to election time, the Site Council will consider hosting a candidate forum.  New board members are seated July 1.

            Discussion was held concerning the merits of changing how board members are represented, noting that sometimes there are several interested, informed candidates from the same district whereas some districts do not have any candidates seeking the office.  

            Arlene noted that the Board will be discussing the sale of the board office at their next regular Board meeting.  She will also look into ways that the Board minutes could be made available to the public in a more timely fashion.  

            TVL tournament is approaching with Onaga hosting the event.  The Booster Club and Class of 2008 purchased a public address system for the old gym, so it hoped that Onaga‚Äôs first game will be in this gym.

            With no further discussion coming from the table, the meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m.  The next meeting will be May 4, 2011 at 6:30.  The public is invited.

Respectfully submitted,
Debbie Berges, Secretary

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