Fifth and sixth grade teachers at the Storm Lake Middle School will be restructuring the instruction of math and reading course work beginning next school year, according to the Board of Education members.
Eighty minutes will be devoted to math and to reading each day, an additional 30 minutes per day in these two areas. Included in this new block will be group reading time. The decision was made after great research which revealed that group reading time has great benefits for the students. Additional time spent in reading and math for the seventh and eighth grade students at SLMS have shown incredible growth in basic skills test scores, district leaders say, and it is hoped that the additional time for the fifth and sixth graders will be reflected as well.
It was also mentioned that consideration is being made to add algebra I to the eighth grade curriculum.
Lori Porsch told the board that she and MS Principal Diane Jones are working with math instructor John Brostad to see if this is feasible.
If so, the class will not be open to all students but admission in to the class will be done on a selective process based on teacher recommendation and Iowa Test of Basic Skills test scores. It is hoped that the class will earn the students an elective credit and be allowed to be part of their transcripts.
"We want this to be the gateway to accelerating their math work," she said.
The board recently took a look at their summer projects that will be funded by the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy fund. Superintendent Dr. Paul Tedesco said that the district receives about $265,000 for that fund each year. PPEL dollars can only be spent on certain things including school improvements, purchase of equipment and building additional structures onto the current facility.
The wish list includes boiler replacement ($208,000), new high school phone system ($35,000 which could go much higher as the building is not wired for an in-room phone system), windows at the high school ($3,000 each).
The wish list totals $875,849 so prioritizing will be done to bring that number down to $125,000 to $150,000. Dr. Tedesco said that the Booster Club will be contacted to see if they can help fund some of the areas that involve sports.
The board agreed to enter into a 28E contract with Buena Vista Regional Medical Center beginning next school year. The school will receive the services of three nurses to be used during the school year at the various district buildings.
Under this new agreement, the district will be responsible for providing the necessary facilities for the offering of the care to the students, providing all materials and supplies and providing payment to BVRMC for 100 percent of the cost of the nurses' services.
The current nurses are fine with the new arrangement; they will not be losing their jobs. One nurse is retiring leaving an open spot.
"Our nurses do a super job," Dr. Tedesco said, reflecting on the string of extra requirements of nurses in today's schools.