ILWACO - WASL test preparation, school improvement and school websites were all hot topics at last week's meeting of the Ocean Beach School District board.
The largest portion of the monthly meeting was given to Mary Schrouder, school improvement facilitator for the district. Schrouder described how the school improvement plan is going so far this year.
"We're definitely in year two of school improvement," said Schrouder. "This is the implementation of the action plan," Schrouder said, going on to review how last year the action plan was put in place after being written by the school improvement team with staff input.
"Not unlike any kind of professional setting," said Schrouder, "if you write a plan and you don't have a place for improvement and a place for monitoring it, than it's a plan that begins and has its life cycle and dies slowly on a shelf somewhere. But what we want is a plan that has the ability to take of its own form and go for it. That's what we're working on. Working pretty hard on it."
She went on to speak of how the improvement team has grown into a subcommittee that features staff members as well. What they will be looking at is how to act together in terms of the work of the subcommittee, how to read the action plan and follow the activities that were set out.
Schrouder also showed the board the calendars for October and November, detailing the various issues the team is working on - "focused professional development," as Schrouder puts it. "That's what we're about. With this higher expectation we're saying, 'Oh, you gotta do this, you gotta do that. You have to be able to achieve'. Well, we are attempting to give them the tools to achieve that."
Another subject Schrouder talked about is "curriculum mapping," a new process where each teacher looks at what they do each month.
"We began that here, at the junior/senior high," said Schrouder, "We also extended it to Hilltop. The point of curriculum mapping is communication. Communication between teachers. Communication between parents. Communication between students. And communication between administrators and teachers. But also to look at the gaps, look at the redundancies. Who's doing what in fifth grade that was done in fourth?"
Another large portion of Schrouder's report centers around WASL test preparation. She passed out to the board members what are called WASL "release items," work books that focus on specific subjects that are included in WASL testing. These items were later approved by the board for incorporation into the daily curriculum at the schools. It is estimated at a cost of around $300 per classroom set. Because of its cost, it was suggested by Schrouder that they start out with just the sets for fourth, seventh and tenth grades this year, as those are the grades in need of preparation for the testing.
Superintendent Tom Lockyer went on say to about the test preparation materials as it relates to the school improvement process, "What we're doing is the right thing to be doing."
Another hot topic last week was an action required during new business, a procedure asking for change to the district's school websites.
The issue being raised was that of the use of full names and photos of students on those web sites. Currently, the web master is only showing the first name of students and the first initial of the their last name for privacy and security reasons. It was suggested strongly by board member Jim Sayce that the names not appear at all due to the uniqueness of some first names.
The issue stems from occasions that could occur if someone was inappropriately trying to locate a child on the internet and could find them through a school district site. The issue was not resolved and will be discussed further as to what is the most appropriate way to handle the situation.
During the reports portion of the evening, Sayce said the facilities committee believes there is a need to lower the depth of the sewer line at Ilwaco High stadium to avoid extra sewer charges incurred by having it pumped regularly. He also reported that the air units to be installed at Hilltop are on their way, and hopefully soon.
Sayce told of three sets of doors that needed to be replaced at the junior/senior high school, but also stated that those doors had nothing to do with the recent break-in. Sayce also reported on a similar note, that they have agreed to have one of the school maintenance workers spend an extra hour every night doing a door checking service to the Long Beach and Ilwaco schools and school district offices. This in an attempt to curb break-ins.
The programs committee reported Tlohon-Nipts Alternative School asked to return various books purchased by the district for them that did not fit with their teaching styles and methods. They are looking into a way to swap the books.
The alternative school also made a presentation at the beginning of the evening to the board, reciting a newly drafted school honor code.
Tlohon-Nipts seniors Tess Whitten and D.J. Dodson said that as part of their mission statement they wanted to address honesty and honor at their school. Guidelines set forth by the students, for the students.
The code addresses conduct, such as lying, cheating, stealing, or impairing the educational opportunities of others. And the code reflects three underlying principles of the school, which are, Mutuality - living together as a whole and as a community; Civility - being courteous and respectful to everyone and everything; and Responsiveness - readily reacting to suggestions, influences or efforts in a constructive manner.
It will hang on a wall at the school and will be included in admissions interviews.
"I think it'll help a lot," said Dodson, "whether it be a select few students actually abide by it or all the students abide by it, it'll help."
The board approved the hiring of four classified employees, Fernando Rodriguez, Carmen Jenkins, Jia Rong and Codie Jenkins, plus the resignation of Long Beach Elementary secretary Terri Russum. Dan Whealdon was also approved as a certified staff employee.
The October general fund was approved at $225,696.71. The ASB fund was approved at $17,222.72 for the month, and the September payroll was approved at $615,291.83.
The current enrollment numbers at Ocean Beach schools became a topic of discussion as it was revealed that the district has 31 fewer students than it budgeted for at this point in the school year. This includes 15 fewer first grade students, although there have more eleventh and twelfth grade students then anticipated. However, school officials foresee the budget imbalance working its way out later in the school year.
Other actions Monday night included, accepting a donation from Paul Wainamo to benefit Peninsula Learns, and accepting a donation of $43,000 from the Ilwaco Sports Boosters toward fall sports teams and weight room equipment. The board also accepted the donation of golf clubs from Rose Conto and Walt Williams to benefit the high school golf teams.
The final action by the board Monday night was to approve the incorporation of WASL release items into the daily curriculum.