ALTA - At their monthly meeting here on Monday, the members of the Alta and Aurelia school boards heard a presentation by teacher Will Dible on the Standards-based grading he has been doing in several of his classes. Basically, this type of grading focuses on what students have actually learned in a class, as determined by their proficiency in meeting the goals of the course, as opposed to getting a letter grade on tests.
Dible, like many other educators, is of the belief that what a student actually learns in their schoolwork is much more important in the long run than the student achieving a certain score or grade in a class, and he is using the standards-based grading to validate that belief.
Superintendent Lynn Evans also presented a brief power point presentation entitled "At the Board Table: discussing School Staff Performance with Parents" and Board members engaged in an activity discussing the proper response to a scenario that was presented.
The Board also reviewed the goals they had set last year and agreed that the four main goals of Developing a Shared Culture, Providing Innovative Education, Handling Shared Financial Matters and Communication with employees and the community should be maintained, with changes to some of the 'bullet points' beneath each goal, due to resolutions or changes of those points.
Evans will re-word these goals and submit them to Board members for further discussion and approval.
Curriculum Director Stacey Cole reported that there will be an all-staff development session on Wednesday to discuss the recommendations from recent "rounds" made by the Department of Education in both districts. Innovative education will be the theme of the meetings. Cole and Evans both discussed the recent participation of the teachers in a training with other teachers in a consortium of 11 area schools, and both felt that this was a great day, and provided teachers with a rare chance to meet with teachers of like subjects from other districts to discuss their ideas.
Cole, who is also the Elementary Principal for both districts, said that she is trying to develop increased communication between the elementary teachers in the two districts because they are located in different towns and buildings. Cole also reported that the Aurelia pre-school had just had a site visit from the state and received an excellent report.
Middle School Principal Ann Sandine reported that things have been extremely busy for her students recently. They hosted the Aurelia Community Coffee last week, and this was organized by Middle School Student Council members, who also acted as greeters and guides at the event.
The Middle School students also presented the Veteran's Day program on Friday, November 9th, with the Middle School chorus and band performing and several 8th graders giving readings. The students also attended the High School musical in Alta.
Sandine also reported that the Middle School students have been incorporating technology into more and more of their schoolwork lately, in writing reports and other projects.
High School Principal Tom Ryherd reported that practices have begun for winter sports and that all the sports have had a good turnout.
He also said that the Student Council is organizing a Food Drive to take place in mid-December, in support of food pantries in both communities. Ryherd also reported that the Kiwanis Clubs have indicated an interest in providing funds to help the music programs, and Ryherd noted that both the band and chorus have a large number of participants, and that around 60 students participated in last weekend's musical production.
Ryherd also stated that 72% of parents were present for the recent conferences with teachers. He said this figure is down a bit from previous years, but he also noted that it seems to be a greater turnout than many other Districts have reported. It was speculated that perhaps the many ways that parents are able to access reports on their students has led to a feeling that meeting with the teacher in person is not necessary, but this was just a speculation. Further research would need to be done to better gauge what parents' current feelings are in regard to conferences.
In other business, the two public forums in Alta which were recently held to discuss the future of the old high school building were discussed. Those present agreed that the consensus of those attending seemed to be that whatever direction is taken, it will be a costly process. The members of the Alta Board agreed that they would meet for a workshop on the matter in December, and Evans will coordinate with them to set up a date for the meeting.
Evans reported that the applications for Modified Allowable Growth funds, which are for increasing enrollment, Open Enrollment Out on 2012 certified enrollment students who were not on the 2011 certified enrollment and for English Language Learners who are beyond the 4th year of the programs, are due to the School Budget Review Committee in Des Mines by December 1st. He has completed the forms for both districts and will send them in if approved by the boards.
The Alta District is eligible for $76,479 for Open Enrollment and $5,281 for English Language Learner, and the Aurelia District is eligible for $24,120 for Open Enrollment. Both boards approved submitting these applications.
Evans also reported that the Alta District has received a $2,800 dividend from EMC Insurance and the Aurelia District has received a $1,600 dividend.
The Aurelia Board approved a payment of $71,307.95 to Woodruff Construction for work completed on the recent remodeling project.
In other business, both Boards reviewed their Early Retirement Policies. No decision was made at this time on whether either District would offer this incentive this year, but Evans will further review if anyone would be eligible this year and if anyone is interested in the incentive if it is offered.
The Alta Board approved extending a contract to Dean Lietz for Assistant Boys Basketball Coach and extending a contract to Bridget Murillo as an Elementary Associate. Dave Turnquist was also approved as a Volunteer boys basketball assistant.
Evans concluded the meeting by presenting an enrollment breakdown by District. Among other things, The Alta District is currently serving 518 students in the Alta District, 498 of them residents of Alta, and 279 students in Aurelia, 236 of them residents of Aurelia; The Alta District has 56 students open enrolled in and 35 open enrolled out, and the Aurelia District has eight students Open Enrolled in and 33 Open Enrolled out.
The Board also approved issued the following proclamation:
"November 12th through the 16th marks the annual observance of American Education Week.
Public schools are the backbone of our democracy, providing our young people with the tools they need to maintain our nations precious values of freedom, civility, and equality. Schools equip our children with the skills and abilities needed for a productive future.
Schools are the glue that hold communities together. They bring parents, children, educators, civic leaders and elected officials around a common enterprise.
All the adults in our schools, whether they are teachers, subs, bus drivers, cooks, associates, librarians, nurses or secretaries, work tirelessly to serve our children and communities with care and professionalism. And this doesn't go unnoticed.
We are truly blessed to have such caring and dedicated adults working with our children daily in Alta and Aurelia."