Board: Marion students to be released at noon, May 25

Superintendent Lee Leiker and the Unified School District 408 Board of Education offered good news for students at their April 11 meeting.

Instead of making up a snow day on May 25, students will be released at noon.

“Staff can use that afternoon to good advantage for teacher inservice and school improvement work,” Leiker said.

High school students apparently will not be having summer school in 2005, reported Missy Stubenhofer, district curriculum coordinator.

“It looks like not enough high-school-level students will need it to make it economically feasible,” she said.

When feasible, high school students are offered the opportunity to make up failed English or math classes during a summer session rather than wait until the following year.

Summer school will be offered for grades K-8. Elementary students are referred by teachers to attend the 14 five-hour days of summer school to help them maintain and extend the progress made during the school year.

Staff will consist of Stubenhofer as coordinator/supervisor; teachers Michelle Adkins, Sheila Baldwin, Julie Trapp, Doug Dick, Laura Baldwin and Charlene Metcalf; half-time kindergarten teacher Lana Fahey; kindergarten aid Lori Kirkpatrick; and keyboarding instructor Tina Kraus.

In reference to keyboarding instruction, Stubenhofer said the optional classes will be open first to fourth graders; if the class doesn’t fill up, it will be open next to fifth-then to sixth-graders.

“Expectations at middle and high school for proficiency causes us to try getting them up to speed on keyboarding ability,” she said. “We tend to forget that someone taught us how to type, and these kids need to be taught if we expect them to work on computers.”

Each class will be 50 minutes long to mesh with the summer school schedule.

The PassKey program purchased earlier in the year is a Web-based program that proved effective with high school and middle school students, Stubenhofer said. At $35 per year per license, unused licenses will be incorporated into the summer school curriculum.

The board approved Stubenhofer’s recommendations for salaries at a total cost of $22,545 for the summer school session by a 6-1 vote, with Roger Hannaford III voting no. About 110 students will attend the K-8 session this year.

At Leiker’s request, Stubenhofer explained the ongoing curriculum-development process. It is a cyclic review for all curriculum areas; different areas are targeted each year. Local committees look at local and state curriculum, assessments, national standards, “anywhere they can get information about the content area,” she said.

This information goes to the buildings, individual teachers and the District School Improvement Team. Finally, the resulting curriculum is presented to the board for approval before being implemented.

The board discussed the new social studies curriculum proposed by the state. Board member Gene Bowers said he is “glad to see more Native American history in this one,” but disappointed that the curriculum is “heavy on U.S. and Kansas, but not much on the world. It hammers civics and skips a lot of world geography, world religions, different types of governments, different types of economic systems.”

Teacher Chad Adkins agreed: “This is a big argument for us. At seventh grade we will have a semester of world geography, whereas in the past it was taught a bit in fourth and sixth grades. High school will have world geography also. Now that students are being assessed in science and social studies, there will be more emphasis in curricula.”

An additional feature emphasizes teaching students how to read expository text in the social studies classroom. The high school Professional Development Committee for reading has for several years provided teachers with training and materials for navigating various types of expository text.

The proposed social studies curriculum passed 6-1, with Bowers voting no.

Adkins, who also is the high school wrestling coach, clarified possible misunderstandings about wrestling records in the district.

“Adam Depler is our first wrestler to place at state,” he said. It’s a great accomplishment.”

A former Marion student, Dusty Delaney, placed at state when Hillsboro and Marion ran a combined program.

With little discussion, the fine arts curriculum (visual and musical arts) was approved by the board, 6-1, with Keith Collett voting no. The topic has been discussed at previous meetings.

The board voted 7-0 to pay Kansas Association of School Boards membership dues of $5,500 and legal assistance dues of $1,000.

Leiker said the legal assistance membership is available only to members of KASB. Board Clerk Martin Tice added that the district can’t get workers’ compensation insurance without being members of KASB.

A spring regional meeting on May 5 will offer a new member workshop; USD 408 has two new members, Jan Helmer and Lyle Leppke.

Tod Gordon, activities director, reported on the summer baseball program. Although the school district is not having a fund-raiser through the school, the Marion Recreation Commission is doing so to replace the dugouts. A May 7 baseball clinic and a Warrior card for business discount are two of the planned fund-raisers.

In other action, the board:

— approved hiring Diane Leiker as a bus driver (7-0).

— approved a 2005-06 teaching contract for Sarah Waddell, presently a library aide, to replace Susie Best as fifth/sidth- grade languate arts teacher (7-0); Linda Allison is serving as a long-term sub in that position.

— accepted the resignation of Jeana Schaub as a fourth-grade teacher at MES.

— heard a thank-you letter from MHS student Michael Brookens for supporting his Kansas Music Educators Association trip and performance.

— learned that the boiler at the high school is out of service; repair options are still under consideration.

— received an invitation from high school principal Ken Arnhold to attend “Forensics Night” on May 2; the MHS squad will be practicing for the state tournament. The session is open to the public at the city auditorium.

— heard from elementary principal Stan Ploutz that Bingo Night in Florence was a success, attended by more than 100 people.

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