Elementary school adding to math, reading instruction

News editor

Marion Elementary School is going to increase the amount of instruction available for students who need it in math and reading in the 2013-14 school year, Cindy Vinduska and Michelle Flaming told USD 408 Board of Education on Monday.

Three years ago, the school implemented Multi-Tiered Systems of Support in reading for students who need extra instruction, identified with tests in the fall, winter, and spring. Students who need the extra help are placed into small groups specific to the areas they need extra work on. The school has added MTSS for math since then as well.

Currently small-group sessions are five days a week, with three times a week for one-on-one instruction, in reading. Math meets twice weekly for small-group sessions, but has no one-on-one time. In the fall, the school will implement daily sessions for both small group and one-on-one for reading and math.

Students who aren’t in MTSS spend the time others are in MTSS on other instruction. MTSS doesn’t replace regular classroom instruction; it supplements it.

Students in MTSS undergo weekly progress monitoring. If a student meets or exceeds goals for three consecutive weeks, he or she can transition out of MTSS.

English standards seeing some changes

Julie Trapp spoke with the board about changes coming to English language arts standards with the implementation of the Common Core Curriculum.

She said the standards will not change dramatically, but they won’t be as specific or restricted as the most recent standards. One change she said she liked is the addition of standards for poetry and other types of texts.

Trapp said reading materials shouldn’t need to be replaced with the changes in standards.

The new English standards also cover writing, connections with social studies and science, speaking, and listening.

In other business:

  • Choral music director David Clark will retire at the end of the year. High school Principal Tod Gordon said Clark has been with the school five years.
  • The board took a field trip to Marion High School to see the new student-operated coffee shop. It was built in a corner of the library by the construction class and will be managed by the entrepreneurship class. The shop doesn’t have a name yet; students will vote on options soon. It is open roughly from 7:45 to 8:30 a.m. each school day.
  • The board approved revising the interlocal agreement for Marion County Special Education Cooperative. The main changes were allowing participating districts to purchase extra special education services at their own cost and requiring virtual students live in one of the districts to receive special education services.
  • The school calendar for 2013-14 was approved. School will begin Aug. 15, and the spring semester will begin Jan. 3. The last day of school will be May 22. Parent-teacher conferences will be Oct. 21 in place of the school day. “We really have a lot of ways for parents to contact teachers,” board member Lyle Leppke said.
  • The board met in closed session for 65 minutes to discuss personnel and negotiations. The final 30 minutes included building principals. No action was taken on return to open session.
  • Leppke said MCSEC may choose to pay penalties under the federal Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, rather than pay for health insurance for paraeducators — the premiums could be as much as $550,000 on the cooperative’s $4 million budget.
  • Board member Duane Kirkpatrick will go to MCSEC board meetings along with Leppke, who is not running for re-election this spring, so he can get up to speed on issues facing the cooperative.
  • Technology Excellence in Education Network will review applications for its director position Thursday.
  • Superintendent Lee Leiker reviewed several pieces of state legislation that could affect school districts, including ones that would reduce what matters teachers unions can negotiate, make school board elections partisan and move them to November, prohibit courts from getting involved in school finance, require referendums for districts to sue the state, change at-risk funding from being based on poverty to being based on student proficiency, and prohibit implementation of Common Core Curriculum.

The next regularly scheduled school board meeting will be 7 p.m. April 8.

 

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