MARCUS - Many members of the Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn elementary school staff participated in a presentation to the local board expressing the advantages of keeping the classes small.
Linda Chapman started off with the meaning of small verses large numbers in any classroom. She made note that there were only 13 second graders in her room in the mornings and in the afternoon, she has 25.
A small class was described as having lots more space for doing activities, easier for students to focus, more time for academics, less crowded, and more individual attention with the teacher as a guide.
A larger class was described as crowded, students were more apt to get distracted, a rush to get things done, schedule had to be more rigid, the students had to develop patience as they may have to wait for help and there is more of a feeling of a group as one does more on their own.
Jodi Feser read a poem depicting how life was in the 1960s and 1970s, which doesn't reflect what life is like for students of today. The theme being that one can no longer expect large size classes to address the needs of today's students.
Enrollment is much more in a changing mode with students moving in and out of the district, which wouldn't have been the case 25 or more years ago.
Amy Schorg related research doing with teacher-to-student ratio with students in small classes doing better than students in larger classes. Today's students need more individualize instruction as the family atmosphere has changed resulting in more behavior problems, said Schorg.
Kris Irwin shared with the board that since the merger of AEA's, services have changed which has resulted in more paper work for the classroom instructor and the involvement of more time to get a child set to receive personal educational services.
Julie Letsche reminded the board that we live in a more mobile society and students coming in usually are not up to the same level of education as the MMC students are. Therefore, the MMC staff works diligently to get them to the level of education of the MMC students.
Kay Ogren related that it's much easier to catch the problems of early education right away such as the articulation of letter sounds and so forth.
Jan Brown reiterated that the staff is dedicated to uphold the MMC standards and not let them slip. MMC is known for a dedicated staff throughout the area as they are dedicated to take care of student's educational problems, said Brown.
Elementary principal Kathy Tritz-Rhodes added the comment, "There were three sections of each grade when I started 14 years ago with 19 on the staff to share recess duty. Now we are down to 13 on staff and although they don't complain about doing their duty, it does take them away from time which could be used for extra help for their students."
The board was going to begin the process for bargaining strategy after the completion of the regular meeting.
Tritz-Rhodes also noted that kindergarten round-up will be held in mid-March so the board will have some idea of numbers for each class size before contracts are let.
The board also looked at two proposed calendars-one from the staff and another from the administration. Each were much the same with the difference being one more added work day for in-service for the staff proposed by the administration.
The board approved a contract for Bev Nielsen as a para-educator.
Steve Liddle presented the board proposals on behalf of the classified staff, He stressed the point of working together for the good of the district and the staff realized the budget restraints but hopes the board will be fair to them for extra work they have taken on at times.
The two guidance counselors, Renea Ogren and Ali Vasher presented the results of "My Voice Survey" taken by the MMC high school students and compared results with the "Iowa Youth Survey" taken a year ago. They answered statements dealing personal attitudes on self-worth such as belonging and sense of accomplishment. Other statements dealt with achievement, leadership, responsibility, and confidence to take action.
Some of the results were quite positive while other percentages of the results showed situations that need to be dealt with. Both counselors stated they were doing various things to communicate the results with parents, staff and students as well. One area of concern dealt with the ease of teens obtaining alcoholic beverages and improving the attitude towards not drinking. Another major concern was to develop students' respect for each other.
A positive factor was that they felt their instructors cared about them and tried to make instruction interesting by providing various strategies as a means to learning. Once again, it was pointed out, students that participate in several activities usually become better students overall.
The board will meet again in two weeks.