School Board Hears Update on Issues
On May 7, the school board held a meeting at Castle Dale Elementary. Castle Dale Elementary Principal, Ralph Worthen, addressed the board and gave a report on the school's progress over the last year. He noted that the last time the board met at the school, there were four employees retiring: a principal, secretary and two teachers. He is pleased with the work that the new employees have done in these positions and thanked the board for their support. He also noted that the intercom system that was put in last year has worked wonderfully.
Worthen mentioned a few of the programs that the school has been working with and reported on their progress. The English Made Easy program is doing very well and the school has had several calls from other schools that would like to see the program in action. Wendy Whittle from Emery High School has been bringing in groups of students to read with first, second and third graders. He said that the experience has been rewarding for both groups of students. Worthen also reported that the PTA had recently taken the entire student body to the theater as a reward for reaching their reading goals. Each student had an individual goal, based on their reading level.
The new computer lab is working well. There are enough computers to accommodate the largest class and they are all new as of this year. The new P.E. equipment that was bought with a PEP Grant is working out well. He is pleased to walk into a P.E. class and see the students actually learning about using correct technique, exercise and how to use special equipment such as step blocks, stability balls, agility rings and dumbbells, rather than attending an "organized recess." He stated that the students were excited about it as well as the teachers. He also noted that the teachers will receive a two-day training on the equipment over the summer.
He is pleased with the online testing. Castle Dale Elementary has only been using it for a few months and he is happy with the immediate results and the benchmark test. The benchmark testing allows a teacher to see if the topic has actually been covered in the class or not.
Superintendent Kirk Sitterud mentioned that he had asked Worthen to attend a training from Utah State University regarding the training of substitute teachers. Worthen will be training substitutes twice a year, once in the summer before school starts and once mid-school year.
Jed Jensen from Ferron Elementary reported that the school is requesting a cooling system, consisting of 13 window swamp coolers and three roof swamp coolers. They had placed out bids and reported them to the Board. The Board stated that what has been done in the past is the Board will match the funds that the school comes up with. Some schools have used their capital funds to make up the difference needed. Business Administrator Ross Huntington mentioned that there were some issues of concern with the swamp coolers. There has been an increased concern with mold in air conditioning systems. The mold is created by adding humidity to the air, which is what swamp coolers will be doing. He is working on obtaining a machine to test the humidity presently in the schools. The other concern is putting the coolers on the roof. There is a possibility of leaking and problems with putting holes in the new roof. The board decided to approve the suggestion on the basis that Jensen look for alternative placement for the three coolers that were to be placed on the roof, and the school raise more funds.
The board then discussed the asbestos abatement project at Huntington Elementary. There has been one bid on the job. The project entails removing tile and glue in a large portion of the school. The bid was awarded to Eagle Environmental on the basis that they will be able to make the time constraints. The school district will then be retiling those areas with vinyl tile and there are also some rooms that will be recarpeted. They will be putting in new lighting and repainting the hallways.
There is also a bid out for the exterior painting project. The board received two bids and awarded it to B & T.
The architects drawings for the new warehouse will be ready on May 13. The project is open for bidding right now and contractors will have two weeks to turn in bids.
Sitterud gave the board notice that Vera Dooley will be resigning. He then went on to speak about a minor change in the JECA policy. This policy is regarding resident and non-resident students. There must be a one to one ratio exchange for all foreign exchange students. This means that the school district must send one student out for each foreign student taken in. The exception to this policy is if the foreign exchange student is charged tuition. The "Per Capita Cost Per Student" for the 2002 year was $6,248. Each foreign exchange student would be charged this amount in tuition for the year if there is no resident exchange. He noted that the district receives from one to three foreign exchange students per year. The board agreed to charge the tuition.
The board is looking at hiring a part time bilingual aid for the 30 students at Bookcliff Elementary who need assistance. The money for the aid will come from the Interventions Block Grant.
The board also signed a letter of compliance for the state of Utah stating that the district is posting the "In God We Trust" signs, having the pledge of allegiance, in compliance with the UPASS testing, and several other items.
In compliance with the No Child Left Behind program all educational assistants that are hired must have an associates degree or pass the parapro exam, which is a national exam. The problem with this exam is that it must be taken at a university and there are only three or four testing dates per year. The board is trying to get a closer location and a few more dates for testing. All existing teachers must acquire this status within the next three years. Sitterud said that there are quite a few changes and a lot of work for the existing teachers to accomplish. This will be especially hard for small schools, such as Green River, where a single teacher teaches several subjects. More information will be given as it is received.
The board then decided who would attend the graduation ceremonies for Emery High School and Green River High Schools. J.J. Grant, Marie Johnson and Royd Hatt will attend Green River. Sitterud, Sam Singleton, Rue Ware and Laurel Johansen will attend Emery High.
On a closing note, Singleton presented Carol Ediger with flowers and a card from the board for receiving her Masters degree. Ediger is a teacher at Ferron Elementary.
The next board meeting will be June 17 at 7 p.m. at the district office.