Board hears elimination of class narrows achievement gap at HHS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY DON RATZLAFF
Representatives from Unified School District 410 and Tabor College have formed a task force for the purpose of exploring a partnership for upgrading the football field and track at the college’s Reimer Field.

Details of that partnership were reported in last week’s issue of the Free Press and can be read on its Web site.

In other matters, Dale Honeck, high school principal, distributed a report he said indicated some success in helping “close the achievement gap” for some students in the area of writing and reading.

This year, the high school eliminated its English Fundamentals class that had been created for students who showed deficiencies in that area. Those students were transitioned into regular English classes.

The students’ performance in those classes this past semester resulted in one B- grade, four students in the C range and four in the D range-grades that were about as good, if not better, than what the students were achieving in English Fundamentals.

“It affirms my belief that when kids see (good) role models in the classroom, they see begin to see English differently,” he said.

Honeck reported one English teacher recently told him, “You can’t believe how much these kids improved over the semester.”

Honeck also reported on a positive attendance rate at HHS this past fall. He said 231 students attended the full semester and as many as 256 students were enrolled at one time or another.

He said the average daily attendance was 228.1, that 12 students achieve perfect attendance and that 94.9 percent of students had missed fewer than five days.

“That’s the best semester in the six years I’ve been here,” Honeck said.

Facility usage

Mohn said a report from the district’s environmental-control consultants indicated that about 9 percent of the utilities used in an average week at by high school and middle school are consumed on Sunday by the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church, which has been meeting without charge in those facilities since its 2004 fire.

Mohn said he and Keith Goossen, maintenance supervisor, felt the consultant’s percentage was high, but Mohn wanted to continue letting the church use the facilities at no charge until they move into a new building.

Mohn said a representative from the church had indicated in a recent conversation that the congregation intends to make a donation to the school once its usage is complete.

Blog restrictions

Mohn reported the district recently took steps to stop student access to unauthorized Internet blogs after some abuses had been discovered.

A blog is a personal Internet journal that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption.

Mohn said that while many blogs are innocent and helpful-some district teachers have even incorporated them into classroom projects-other blogs can lead students into danger.

“The message here is: Parents, if you don’t know where your kids are going on the Internet, you need to sit down with them and find out,” Mohn said.

Other business

In other matters, the board:

  • extended Mohn’s contract as superintendent of schools for a three-year period.
  • heard that an additional assistant coach will be hired for the high school wrestling team to work with an athlete from the special-education program.
  • heard from board clerk Jerry Hinerman that a newly released legislative study indicates Kansas lawmakers will need to increase the state’s education budget by a minimum of $316 million this session to meet federal assessment goals in the 2006-07 school year.

    The study was commissioned by the Legislature itself.

    “They’re under court order now (to increase the education budget),” Mohn said. “For them not to do anything will probably put us in a (constitutional) crisis like we were last year.”

  • heard from the three building principals that teachers and students are gearing up for state assessments that will start in March.
  • heard the annual local spelling bee at Hillsboro Elementary School is planned for 9 a.m., Jan. 20, in the high school auditorium.
  • approved recommendations to reduce Tisha Bielefeld’s Parents as Teachers employment contract from 37.5 hours to 10 hours per week beginning Feb. 1, and to increase Karen Elliott’s employment contract in the same program from 10 to 37.5 hours per week beginning Jan. 1.

    Mohn said Bielefeld had requested the reduction because she had accepted a job at Tabor College.

  • met at 6:30 p.m. for a half-hour orientation session to hear about the district’s evaluation process for teachers.
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