Goals include a new effort to teach Spanish to younger children
The Storm Lake School Board examined district goals during its November meeting this week. While the top goal will remain an improvement in student proficiency in key areas such as reading, math and science, the second goal taking shape is a new elementary school in which to continue to pursue those improvements.
The board wants to begin the preliminary plans for the design of a new kindergarten through fourth grade elementary facility.
Input on the needs of the students and staff has been received by the K-4 staff.
Cost remains an issue. Superintendent Bill Kruse said that revenues are currently being generated by the School Infrastructure Local Option sales tax - totaling $440 per student per year. The funds generated thus far total approximately $72,000 per month or $800,000 per year. Kruse commented that revenues could increase 20 percent,up to $575 per student, if the Awaysis project goes through.
Projected cost of the facility, to house 700 students, is $8 million.
Only 60 percent of the sales tax collections can be used towards for bonding.
The funds received are currently being invested for the future project. Within three years, $2.4 million will be set aside with $5.6 million remaining to finance the project.
A committee has been established to visit new K-4 facilities at Panora and Jefferson-Scranton to obtain ideas and give suggestions for the design of the building. A target date of Feb. 18 has been established for a report to be made to the board of education.
By March 16, a time frame in which an architect should be sought will be recommended to the board.
Three and one-half pages of needs for the new elementary building were presented to the board along with a list of wants and a list of dreams.
The middle school will be paid for by 2010 which will free up additional funds.
In the meantime, the board will continue to work on its top goal of improving student proficiencies and test scores in the areas of reading, math and science.
The Reading First program has been enhanced at the kindergarten through fourth grade level and is expected to increase proficiencies.
The middle school staff is receiving professional development training relative to the same strategies given to the younger students only at a higher level. The MS staff will also continue to implement Every Student Counts as a part of the research-based curriculum for improving math scores. In the math area on the elementary level, a program called Investigations for Improving Mathematics is being reviewed. This approach reviews methods of teaching and evaluates student data in order to make good decisions for math programs.
Marshalltown and Council Bluffs schools have adopted this series and are reporting an increase in scores, Superintendent Kruse told the board.
The third goal that the district will be trying to meet is teaching Spanish to elementary and middle school school-age students to provide English speaking students an opportunity to become bilingual. This project has already gotten underway in the elementary schools ton a volunteer basis. Students interested attend classes Tuesdays and Thursdays during the Elementary Tornado Academy time. Thus far 30-40 students at each facility are taking part.
Currently ETA funds are paying for the relatively small costs of the program which requires two staff at each building. Supplies are minimal as well.
The fourth goal of the district is to provide opportunities for parent focus classes. A class on gangs has already been made available and was well-attended.
The after school program will also provide family nights as a way of getting parents involved in their child's education.
The board approved procedures to allow the disposal of outdated equipment or property, other than real estate property, having a value of no more than $5,000. A running ad on E-Bay is being considered, with a required ad in a local newspaper to make people aware of the equipment.
The school district currently has eight years worth of equipment to dispose of.
Julianna Smith, instructor for the Accelerated Acquisition of Academic English program, and two students, discussed this program which is aimed at improving the English of students.
The program requires a two-block time period each semester and replaces any other English classes. Each semester, students cover units in English reading. writing, listening and speaking.
All courses are dual-credited with Iowa Central Community College.
The two students said that the classes are difficult with a great deal of homework but the two students said they are glad for the opportunity as the course is helping them in their other classes. Students who tested high in the COMPASS ESL program were asked to be a part of the program.
One resignation was accepted from Joanne Jacobson, who served as a high school special education instructor assistant.
It was also agreed that Storm Lake High School boys wishing to take part in a swim team will allowed to complete with the Spencer High School team.