Superintendent Kirk Sitterud said he had been approached by the Emery High senior class and they want to move the graduation ceremony back to the auditorium from the Spartan Center. Each senior would be given six-eight tickets. The auditorium has a better sound and lighting system and the move back would lend a more dignified atmosphere to the graduation ceremony. The request was granted. The Emery School District Board of Education met at Cottonwood Elementary for their April meeting. JJ Grant gave an update on the Emery County Swimming Pool project. The school district has donated the land for this project. Superintendent Sitterud said the county should just take all the property there because with the pool there wouldn't be room for anything else like houses. Grant said if that were the case Castle Dale City would look at putting a park there by the pool because Castle Dale City will lose their park downtown with the building of a new stake center. The park is a future project. The pool project is tentatively scheduled to start in June with completion in June 2008. The school district has also agreed to fund the parking lot for the pool, not to exceed $86,000. The old pool is now permanently closed.
In personnel matters, Vee Guymon has been named the lunch manager at Huntington Elementary and Terry Bolotas will be a six hour lunch worker at San Rafael.
An asbestos removal project at Green River High and Book Cliff Elementary will take place this June. Fresh Air Environmental will do the work.
The school board approved the issuance of a judgment levy to recoup a tax refund to Canyon Fuel in the amount of $26,200. The district will have until Dec. 31 to issue this refund.
The board appointed a negotiating team for classfied employees, Marie Johnson and Laurel Johansen will be on that committee and Royd Hatt and Sam Singleton will take care of the certified employees.
Dennis Jones, principal at Cottonwood Elementary gave his report to the school board, "We at Cottonwood would like to thank you for the support we receive from you. We are having a great year here at Cottonwood. School improvement is an ongoing part of our school. School improvement at first glance seems not very complicated. One should just test the student, see where their weakness is, then prescribe the medicine to help them. We all know it is much more complicated than that. First of all, the teachers have been given a great deal of training so they can give the right test, make the correct diagnosis, and then give the medicine needed to help the students learn. All of our teachers have access to, and have been trained to use Edutest and UTIPS. These are computer testing programs that are correlated to the state core. The teachers have also been trained on DIBLES, Running Records, QRI, and Star testing programs. The students are instructed, tested, and a prescription is given and re-evaluated on a regular basis.
"We have several teachers who are involved in the math endorsement program; Lorraine Frandsen, Lori Labrum, Julie Huntington and Jan Hanson. I can already see improvement in math instruction in their classrooms.
"Lorraine Frandsen is also in charge of our Star Reading Program. This program enlists volunteers from the community to work directly under the direction of Lorraine to work one on one with the students who are struggling in reading. Lorraine trains the volunteers and then monitors their instruction so it is geared to help specific children with specific reading problems.
"Teachers at Cottonwood are continually receiving training in the five specific areas of reading instruction: phonemic awareness; phonics; fluency; vocabulary; and text comprehension. This has also been the focus of the district language arts committee that I chair. Teachers representing each elementary receive training then return to share it with their own school.
"Our teachers have all had training the last few years in several literacy helps.
"This year we have been reviewing several of the helps we have studied. A phonics approach program called Words Their Way gives us great new strategies with reading, spelling and language development. Strategies That Work is a great resource for teaching comprehension and enhances understanding. Building Fluency: Lessons and Strategies for Reading Success is a great resource for just what it says, building fluency which is vital to building comprehension. Teaching Reading in the Content Area, this book is very complicated. It examines the three interactive elements of the reading process that influence comprehension which are: what the reader brings to the situation; the learning climate; and the characteristics or features of the text. It guides teachers through 40 different teaching strategies that can be used to teach meaningful reading in the content areas. At its most basic, teaching reading in the content areas is helping learners make connections between what they already know and new information presented in the text. As students make these connections, they create meaning; they comprehend what they are reading. Teaching reading in the content areas, therefore, is not so much about teaching students basic reading skills as it is about teaching students how to use reading as a tool for thinking and learning.
"Usually when a faculty has teachers who have many years experience as ours, they think they don't need any additional in-service. This is not the thinking of our faculty. Our teachers have from 20-34 years experience and I'm very proud to say they are all engaged in continual learning and self improvement. We have five teachers, Lynda Nelson, Christy Bingham, Lori Labrum, Lorraine Frandsen and Kristine Story who have completed a very good but also very demanding reading program. They have their state reading endorsement. Four of the five teachers also now have their master's degree in reading. Mrs. Bingham already had her master's degree so she opted out of that part of the program.
"Our PTO is very supportive and very important for our school/home connection. Under the direction of the school they are conducting a reading at home program. Students are instructed to read a certain number of minutes a week, parents sign the student papers and the PTO records and keeps track of each student's progress. The students who achieve the goal are rewarded at the end of each quarter. This way, no matter what level the student is reading on, each student can be a winner.
"We have four classrooms that have been equipped with projectors and smart boards that are connected to the teacher's computer. We are in the process of installing two more smart boards we just received. We are also in the process of purchasing one more smart board this year. This will put one in every classroom but the kindergarten room. I was lucky enough to win one at the winter UESP conference. We will use this one as a portable that we can use in different trainings or settings. We have a smart board in our computer lab that is very beneficial for student instruction.
"The district has adopted a classroom instruction program by Robert Marzano. It is called Classroom Instruction That Works. I give my teachers periodic in-service training in this program. Then they sign up on the calendar which day and time they want me to come into their classroom to observe them putting the new teaching skill to work. The teacher and I meet after and discuss how things went. Changes are made and they try again. After the teachers feel like they have perfected the part they are working on we move on to a new skill.
"Mrs. Frandsen is in charge of our student action team. The students who want to be on the team submit an application to Mrs. Frandsen and then she divides the students into four groups, one for each quarter. A captain and co-captain are selected and they help with the school assemblies. The students receive training to assist teachers and students. The other students on the team are assigned a teacher to help and they help with any needs the teacher has. This can be from helping a student with a buddy reading to helping students learn to get along on the playground. Mrs. Frandsen puts a lot of time into this program and it helps students of all grade levels.
"Our teachers are also introducing a bullying prevention program called Don't Laugh at Me. It is a very good program that brings us all back to the main ingredient in teaching, which I believe is a genuine love for the students. I firmly believe that students can't learn unless they truly feel safe, protected and loved.
"I ran across a quote that I have shared with my teachers and I would like to share it with you. 'If we want to influence learners for good, we should not merely love to teach; we should love each person we teach. We should measure our success by the progress of those we teach, not by the excellence of our performance.'
"If we love first and teach the curriculum second, students will learn and I guarantee your day will go better.
"You can see that my school has bought into the philosophy that school improvement is not just a buzz word, but it is an important commitment that must be made by those who have the ability, responsibility and talent to teach.
"School improvement is important and must be on-going. I firmly believe that schools can become a community of learners. School improvement needs to be based on ideas, values and concepts that are good for students, teachers and the school. In a successful school, consensus runs deep. It enhances the performance and productivity of the teachers and provides both sense and meaning. A true leader must involve all under their direction in the vision of school improvement. An atmosphere must be created where these elements are fostered and understood. On-going school improvement is the very life blood of public education," said Jones.
Board chairman Johansen told Principal Jones how impressed the board is with his school and the commitment of the teachers. Even though the teachers have been at it many years they are not burned out and always looking to improve. "We can feel the love and commitment in your school," said Johansen.
Superintendent Sitterud reported the Emery County School District had received the 2006 Gold Award. This is for safety inspections of buses. The buses are inspected once on a planned visit and then a surprise visit sometime in the year and Courtney Guymon who is the safety inspector for the school district keeps the buses in top repair.
The Superintendent reported full day kindergarten is fully funded for one school and the district will determine where this full day kindergarten will be implemented. The formula is the school with the greatest number of students on free lunch will receive the kindergarten funding. The details will be gone over at a May 4 meeting and the decision will be made on the school. There are three title one schools, Huntington Elementary, Book Cliff and Ferron. The kindergarten money is one time money for four years of the program.
The extended day kindergarten class would contain a smaller number of students and the majority would be those students considered at risk.
As of April 2 the enrollment of kindergarten students for 2007-08 school year was 159 registered. In first grade the number is 183. For kindergarten the number is down 24 students from this school year. It was noted that Huntington Elementary usually picks up a few more students between now and school start in August.
The secondary projections in enrollment will be down 63 students next year and down 46 the year after that then after those declines the students will level out.