HES to improve reading program, board hears

Unified School District 410 Board of Education at its Monday evening meeting discussed concerns over kindergarten reading levels and a proposal to adjust the district’s copier lease.

Evan Yoder, Hillsboro Elementary School principal, reported research on elementary reading levels.

“We have some kids in kindergarten who are not where we’d like to have them,” Yoder said.”We know kids that are behind at the end of kindergarten have a hard time keeping up.”

Citing observations of less than desirable scores,Yoder said the school is looking for ways to strengthen its reading program.

One solution discussed was all-day kindergarten for students who are developmentally behind. Beginning in January, seven children will attend a specialized afternoon session of school focusing specifically on reading skills-in addition to attending regular morning class.

Yoder also presented research on transitional classrooms, a program designed to be a school year after kindergarten for underdeveloped children to prepare them for first grade.

The board also passed a motion to endorse a proposal to update the district’s eight copiers with remanufactured machines.

Modern Office Methods, with whom the district currently leases several of its copiers, proposed to rewrite the current lease.

Under the proposed agreement, eight of the school’s copiers would be replaced with machines having a meter reading of about 500,000 copies, a figure significantly less than copiers currently in use.

“We are confident we can enter this arrangement and not increase our monthly costs and very likely see a $200 to $300 per month decline,” said Gordon Mohn, USD 410 superintendent.

The board also approved a written request from Phil Oelke, a social studies teacher at Hillsboro Middle School, asking for extended leave during April 2005 to tour Israel and Jordan.

After discussion, the board agreed adequate instruction could be provided in Oelke’s absence.

“I think this is a worthwhile experience,” Mohn said. “It’s something Phil can bring back and use in his classroom.”

Among other business, the board:

— approved issuing a supplemental contract to Tyler Marsh to serve as the head baseball coach at Hillsboro High School.

— heard from Activities Director Max Heinrichs, who said HHS will host a junior varsity wrestling tournament this Saturday featuring teams from Class 1A to Class 5A competing on four mats.

— reviewed details concerning a Technology Showcase for the public on Dec. 23 featuring instructors who will highlight ways they have integrated technology into classroom instruction.

— reviewed reports from HES, HMS and HHS on student fund-raising.

— listened to a report on health insurance from Mohn who said he was confident rates could remain consistent.

— received positive comments from Cheri Ochs Wheeler thanking the district for allowing Prairie View to use HES and school vehicles for its summer camp.

— heard details about an academic excellence night that will honor students who have performed at the exemplary level on the Kansas math, reading and writing assessments. Awards will be given during halftime of the boys’ basketball game Dec. 17.

— met in executive session to discuss principal and superintendent evaluations.

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