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U.S.D. #322 Site Council Minutes for May

by Debbie Berges

May 26, 2011

U.S.D. #322 Site Council Minutes
May 4, 2011

        The May 4, 2011, meeting of the Onaga Site Council was called to order by President Roy Duer at 6:30 in the school library.  Those present were Sharon Bosse, Roy Duer, Arlene Jacobson, Robin Kolterman, Mary Pennington, Dan Peters, Amy Spoonts, and Sandy Zahn, with Debbie Berges joining the group at 7:00.  Minutes of the January meeting had been approved via e-mail following that meeting.  They have been posted to the school web site.

        OGS/OMS Principal Sandra Zahn presented a PowerPoint regarding Common Core Standards which will be replacing the Kansas Standards by school year 2014-2015.  These Common Core Standards will be phased into the Kansas Assessments.  All expectations for meeting increasingly high standards on these tests remain in place.  The goal of Common Core Standards is to put into place core expectations in all schools nationwide; therefore, when students move from place to place, the interruption to their educational progress will be minimal.  In order to put into place Common Core Standards a great deal of teacher training is needed.  The elementary teachers have been involved in several training activities which focus on instruction and aligning the curriculum to reflect the Core Standards.  This training will continue on Friday, May 6, during their in-service meetings.  More information on Common Core Standards is available at http://www.ksde.org by clicking on Common Core Standards.  Mrs. Zahn mentioned that next year she will be focusing on informing parents and public of the shift in educational focus.  She also mentioned that it would be beneficial for parents to observe how the teachers, paraprofessionals, and aides work with the reading MTSS (Multi-Tiered Student Support) groups in the elementary grades.  

        Mrs. Zahn spoke to the process of setting up a class schedule for K-12 that best utilizes the time and expertise of each staff member.  Many staff members are utilized across all grade levels to help with MTSS instruction.  This involvement of staff members will likely increase next year.  Many things go into the development of a class schedule in a small district.  For example, if a baseline computers class is offered in junior high, then future computer classes can be taken for vocational funding at the high school level.  However, the State Department of Education designates these classes as part of a vocational agriculture strand.  Therefore, the position is advertised as a Vocational Agriculture instructor.

        Administrators and staff members appreciate the District Office being located on the main campus of the school.  The office is now housed in the front of the old stone agriculture building, located to the east of the high school.

        Mrs. Berges shared updated the Site Council on the purchases made by Friends of USD #322 for the school.  Ten notebook computers were purchased recently for use in the lower elementary grades, a video-computer system for the IRC program in the high school for use in role-playing such things as interviews, and a portable public address system.  Upcoming fund-raiser will be a Hired Hand auction paired with an appreciation barn dance on June 11.

        Earth Week was a success again this year.  R-Squad members, through a Green Schools grant, were able to purchase cloth shopping bags for each student and staff member.  Several contests were conducted throughout the week.  One such contest was to invent something using all recyclable materials.

        Time was spent going over the uses of the ACT EXPLORE test given to 8th graders this year which was funded by a grant from the State Department of Education.  This is the first time this particular test has been given to 8th graders at OGS.  The test results show how closely a student in progressing in learning the knowledge he/she needs in order to gain the quantity of knowledge that is recommended to have when they are Seniors in high school to enter college successfully.  Additionally, an interest inventory shows career cluster areas recommended for the student to consider.  Discussion from the Site Council was favorable in finding a way to continue this testing in the coming years if the State does not provide the service again.  Mrs. Zahn noted how just the experience of taking an ACT test and becoming familiar with its format is valuable to students as they take the ACT for college entrance in their junior or senior year of school.  Mrs. Berges will be presenting the results to the students and will also be available to discuss results with individual students and parents should there be an interest in exploring further the implications of the test results.  Mrs. Berges noted that this test fits into some Multiple Intelligence surveys she has been doing with the students.  Mrs. McClelland administered the ACT PLAN to the sophomores this year which serves the same purpose of tracking the acquired knowledge of students to be on tract with college-ready academic background.  

        As a culminating activity to the career exploration unit with the 7th and 8th graders and to tie into EXPLORE test results, a Career Afternoon will be held on May 11.  Several local people will be presenting about their careers to the students.  This is a new activity being provided for the students.  Arlene had some suggestions on how to perhaps expand the activity to more students next year.  This would also utilize guest speakers more effectively.

        New business brought a discussion about the block class schedule aligning up better so teachers can be used more effectively.  Arlene noted that there certainly are advantages and disadvantages to a block schedule. It becomes even more tedious to develop a schedule when teachers are being used at multiple grade levels.  An additional consideration in next year’s schedule is that all students K-8 will have a half hour MTSS time three times a week.  Students will be assigned a group depending upon the skills they need to work on or to enhance.  Only if a student needs additional learning time to master a skill will they be pulled from their special class of band, art, or choir.  

        Mrs. Zahn clarified the point that when statistic of how poorly the United States does on standard tests in comparison to the rest of the world, one needs to consider that in the United States we test every student.  Most countries around the world, track students very early in their education into career paths.  Only the brightest students then will ever see the type of testing that the United States does on all students.  If other countries would test the masses, the United States would beat them “hands down”.  This is the great testing disparity that is seldom mentioned in the media.

        A discussion was held concerning junior high eligibility.  The staff is considering some changes in its current policy.  The current policy is much more stringent than KSHSAA’s eligibility guidelines.  

        It was decided that Mrs. Zahn would put the corresponding dates and times for the 2011-2012 school year into next year’s calendar.

        With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:50 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Debbie Berges, Secretary

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