USD 418 School Board Meeting Recap Nov. 25

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By: Brian Meek, USD 418 School District Correspondent

The USD 418 Board of Education held a regular meeting on Monday at the district central office. The board kicked off the meeting with a recognition of the State 5A Tennis Doubles Champions, Taylor Bruce and CeAnna Allen.  Last year, the duo finished fourth in the state. When asked what was different this year, Taylor responded, “Being my senior year, I knew it was my last chance. I just left it all out there. “

Eisenhower Elementary Principal, Chris Allen provided his annual school report to the board. Allen discussed their Jaguars Achieving Greatness program. This discipline policy revolves around the idea that you praise publicly and criticize privately.  The program has dramatically improved the behavior of students in the school. Since the beginning of the school year, disciplinary office visits have dropped from one per day to 0.47 per day. 

Allen also discussed the current status of the Summit Learning Program at Eisenhower Elementary.  This year, the program shifted focus to place greater value on understanding and applying concepts and less value on rote memorization.  Several fifth grade students gave a presentation on how a project works in the Summit Learning Program. The students explained how they began their project by learning about lift and drag by building paper airplanes, watching them fly, and modifying them to improve their flight characteristics. The next step of the project required the students to apply what they learned with the airplanes to build and launch model rockets.  The students learned how to measure the flight apogee using an inclinometer that they built in class. They collected the data and performed a statistical analysis on the launch results. Students learned how to determine which rockets performed better and what features of those rockets caused the various differences in performance. At the conclusion of the project, the students provided oral presentations of their findings. This project reinforced 36 different cognitive skills and provided the students with a real world application.

Brandi McWilliams reported on the recent progress of the English and Language Arts curriculum review meeting.  ELA teachers from all grade levels K-12 got together to provide input on the direction of the curriculum district-wide. Since the focus this year is K-5 ELA, the K-5 ELA Committee established set dates to meet twice a month.  The group will begin by taking inventory of the current curriculum and compare it to the required needs for a core reading/writing curriculum in kindergarten through fifth grade. McWilliams commented to the Buzz “We are starting with the ELA program because reading and language is the foundation of all of the others subjects. Once we complete ELA we will move on to math.”

Kirby Fadenrecht provided an update on his visit to a conference regarding at-risk program and funding. As a result of the information discovered at the conference, the central office administrators are reviewing the district’s compliance with the At-Risk Program Guidelines and the allocation of At-Risk state funding toward applicable costs. 

Next, The board provided and update on the superintendent search. A survey was released via Facebook asking the community to provide input on the most important characteristics of a new Superintendent. This survey is also available on the USD 418 website and is open until January 20, 2020. In addition, a community member committee was formed to provide additional input to the board regarding the new superintendent search. The board has begun the search for the new superintendent through the Kansas Association of School Boards by posting the opening nationwide. KASB is leading the search and will provide a list of viable candidates and resumes to the board by Jan. 22, 2020, with interviews following shortly after and a decision being made before the end of February 2020. 

Brandon Simmelink provided a proposal to the board to alter the Parent Teacher Conference structure at McPherson Middle School. The proposal is to add an additional afternoon of conference time slots. This would increase the total available conferences by 26. The conferences are currently scheduled for March 9 and March 10, 2020. The additional half-day on March 11 would require an early release of students on that day at 11:30 a.m. to accommodate starting the conferences at 12:20 p.m.

Chris Allen, Principal at Eisenhower Elementary and Jill Beam, Principal at Washington Elementary discussed the Capturing Kids Hearts Program. Washington Elementary, Eisenhower Elementary, and McPherson Middle School have been nominated as National Showcase Schools for the Capturing Kids Heart Program. This program reinforces positive affirmations between both staff and students. The principals are looking to expand the training to increase program reach and effectiveness. This training will require that school be cancelled on Feb. 18, 2020 at Washington and Eisenhower Elementary for staff to attend this training. Several teachers at Eisenhower Elementary School provided support for the program. Abby Broadstreet, Second Grade Teacher at EES said: “My favorite part of the day is not only greeting my kids at the door but then watching them greet their friends with a handshake once they enter the classroom. It starts the day off on such a positive note and I love seeing the kids interact in this way!”

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