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SRVS Advisory Board meetings
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Little Snake River Valley School Advisory Board Minutes
***DRAFT until Board approved*** Minutes compiled by Tomi Sue Wille
December 8 2014 Advisory Board Minutes
Tomi Sue Wille
(These are unofficial minutes. Official minutes, kept by the secretary, will be approved at the next board meeting.)
The Advisory Board meeting on February 2, 2015, was called to order by Chairman Todd Skalberg at 4:14 p.m. Those present included board members: Skalberg, Jack Corson, and Jenny Criswell, as well as Principal Joel Thomas, Superintendent Fletcher Turcato, and school board member Matt Feldmann.
Others in attendance included: Patty Waldron, Shan D. Ferguson, Anna Waldron, Dawn Arnell, Brenda Updike, Jim Espy, Tomi Sue Wille, Susan Leonhardt, Danielle McKee, Paula McCauley, Angeli Skalberg, Celia Corson, Christy Stocks, Dan Cheatham, Ann Wille, Dale Wille, Julia Johnson, Hannah Hurd, Josh Cozzens, Mike Bates, Ben Cozzens, RaeLynne Prestrud, and Cindy Cobb.
The agenda was approved. A motion was made by Corson, and seconded by Criswell, to approve the minutes of the last meeting, with all voting aye.
Principal's Report: Thomas submitted his written report to the Advisory Board. He told the audience that the middle school is implementing 90 minute blocks for teaching math and plans to do so for language arts in the future.
School Board Report: Feldmann said, “Things are on track.”
Superintendent's Report: While at LSRV Turcato walked through classrooms to observe teaching, which he also does often in Rawlins. He outlined the plans to implement STEM (Science/ Technology/ Engineering/ Math) in the LSRV School next year in 6th-12th grade, specifically classes in learning video game coding. Elementary students can have occasional exposure to the technology, and possibly robotics, but the focus at that age is on core classes of reading, language arts, and math. New computers will be made available so teaching can be up-to-date with current technology. Turcato also discussed student performance data. He plans to separate LSRV data from rest of district so it can be compared to other K-12 schools state-wide, while Rawlins data will be compared to other 3A schools. Turcato expressed his concerns with teacher absences, which he said are too high in this district. He said, “Especially on a four-day week, we need to make sure that teachers take minimal sick days”.
Technology Report: Thomas said the internet bandwidth issues are getting better. The school is obtaining more tablets for use in classrooms.
Old Business: The school board policy on the unit school agreement for LSRV is being reviewed and updated. The Advisory Board hopes to have a report at the next meeting on the agreement. The district's attorney has said the unit school agreement cannot undermine district policy. Turcato explained that the unit school agreement will "enhance efforts to keep LSRV's autonomy, but still keep it under district policy."
The Bible study group, or “milkshake club,” was addressed by the school board at an earlier meeting. Turcato has heard complaints, and he reminded community to go to principle first. The board determined that the club can continue as long as it follows the requirements outlined by district attorney: it must be student led, a pastor can be the speaker no more than once a month, no incentives can be given as enticement, a staff member must supervise the meetings, and the group must peaceably assemble. The board will give written guidelines to the local pastor, Jeremy McCauley, regarding the club.
The Advisory Board asked Thomas for an update on the advertised teaching positions. Thomas will interview applicants for a middle school science teaching position, which will include the STEM focus, and he hopes to hire someone who is certified for 6th-12th grades. he mentioned that Dan Cheatham, the current high school science teacher who will be trained in STEM, is also certified for 6th-12th grades. Rose Johnston will continue to teach language arts in the middle school.
He said Jake Rich is continuing as the high school math teacher, but the school is advertising for an additional math teacher, certified 6-12th. He said the school is currently and will, next year also, offer a math lab class for extra help or math tutoring, which can be taken in addition to regular math classes. Thomas will be interviewing for these positions soon. The music position is still advertised.
New Business: Concerns have been expressed to the Advisory Board regarding the availability of teachers to help students during Friday school. A discussion was held with those in attendance. Turcato said he has reviewed and approved the plan for the rotation of teachers working on Fridays and being available to work with students. Thomas said that at least four teachers are available each Friday for middle and high school students. He arranges the rotation with a math/science educator and a language arts educator on each Friday school team. Thomas is going to make the information available to parents regarding which teachers are scheduled to work which Fridays. Feldmann suggested that the Friday school assignments be kept on a google calendar that parents can access through an app.
Corson said that in comparison to small schools that have a five-day week, but have students gone for sports on Fridays, LSRV's four-day week with Friday school results in greater student to teacher contact time. Turcato said that LSRV is actually over the state required hours of student to teacher contact time.
Ann Wille also discussed the increased amount of time for student to teacher contact at the LSRV School during the four-day school week. She said kids do not want to be absent because they know they will have so much make-up work. She also talked about the high number of students who attend Friday school for extra help, not because they are required to attend. Angeli Skalberg said she appreciates the opportunity her high school students have had to get extra help in Friday school.
Patty Waldron asked if data is being kept on how kids attend and benefit from Friday school. Thomas said there is a sign-in sheet so he knows who attends and for what amount of time. He notices on Wednesday that there may be a long list of those required to attend because of missing assignments, but they get assignments turned in either before or on Friday of that week.
The tracking of the data is through the weekly eligibility. Wille noted that there have been considerably less students ineligible for school activities since the four-day week with Friday school has been implemented. Thomas said there has not been an F in middle school or high school for three consecutive semesters, even though the academic expectations have been increased. He attributes this success to the willingness of teachers to get kids caught up, especially during Friday school. Turcato told the audience that Rawlins raised their eligibility standards to match the standards of LSRV.
Parents are notified if students need to attend on Friday. Each teacher is a mentor for seven to eight high school students. Mentoring teachers are able to know if their students are attending Friday school and keeping assignments turned in. It was also noted that the school provides a bus for Friday school whenever it's needed.
Angeli Skalberg said she praised the efforts of school staff to adjust scheduling to be able to place kids in the core class that fits their academic ability, especially in the elementary. Christy Stocks also praised the efforts made to provide challenges to the students who need it.
Corson expressed appreciation to the audience for attending and participating in the Advisory Board meetings.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:05 p.m., with the motion made by Corson and seconded by Criswell.
The next Advisory Board meeting will be March 16, 4:15 p.m. in the library. After that, a meeting will be held on April 30, to coincide with the date of the school board's meeting at LSRV.