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School calendar discussed by School Board

Posted: Thursday, Dec 13th, 2012

At the Huron Board of Education meeting held Monday, members heard a calendar committee report from Superintendent Terry Nebelsick. He told the board the calendar committee was a large committee composed of teachers, district staff, parents, students, community members and representatives from clubs, organizations and city departments such as Parks & Rec. Nebelsick said everyone present at the committee meeting shared what group they were with and what their priorities were concerning the school calendar.

The proposed calendar has a start date of Aug. 19 with the last day of school being May 20. The first semester would end Dec. 20, for a total of 84 days. The second semester would have 92 days for a total of 176 student contact days. Graduation would be May 18. The proposed calendar is available in the administration office at the Huron Arena.

David Wheeler asked if there would be any difficulties with teaching semester classes with the difference in length between the semesters. Huron High School Principal Demi Moon explained that it wasn’t a concern to teachers, as very few classes would be affected. Faculty may add additional activities during the second semester, but she said there were testing days during the spring when no classes are held, so both semesters are actually very balanced.

Shelly Bennett said she continues to get questions about switching to a four-day week. She asked the superintendent to analyze various four-day options with the pros and cons for the different schedules.

Tim Van Berkum, board president, mentioned that all the board members attended a legislative lunch Dec. 10. Rep. Peggy Gibson, Representative-elect Dick Werner and Senator-elect Jim White met with the board to hear concerns and answer questions. The district needs additional English as a second language funding to offset the extraordinary costs of the ESL program above what the district gets from the state. Members also pressured the politicians to push for a return to the state funding formula without one-time money.

John Halbkat said he was sorry the meeting turned into a disscussion about the district’s budgeted healt care costs instead of focusing on the legislative session and state funding for schools.

“Education needs to be the number one priority in state spending or else spending on corrections will be,” he said, referring to the correlation between education spending and criminal activity. “I also hope our legislators understand we need to get rid of one-time monies. You can’t make a budget with one-time money.”

Bennett agreed, saying one-time money is like getting a treat, but you can’t budget around it.

Cindy Niederbaumer gave an ESL assessment report. In 2012, 514 ESL students were tested with 27 scoring proficient. Of the 322 who were being tested for the second time, 37 percent showed progress. Niederbaumer said this data is skewed because the first assessment given when students enter the district is not considered the first data point for plotting their progress.

“A child may enter the district in August and test in the ‘entering’ category with a 1 or 1.5 score,” she explained. “Then the first recognized assessment is given in February. That student may have made great strides and may score a 2, placing them in the ‘beginning’ ranks, but that growth is not considered. If it was, our percentage of students making progress would be in the 50 or 60 percentile.”

A request by Lori Wehlander, high school special education instructor, was granted for funds for a Self-Advocacy Initiative. The funds will be used to purchase curriculum materials for a new transition to adulthood planning course. Wehlander will teach the class to five to 10 students each semester.

The Why Try materials will help students develop self-advocacy skills and discover why they should try to improve themselves by covering topics such as tearing off labels, jumping over hurdles, climbing out of situations and getting plugged into adults and agencies that can help them in their future.

Ryan Fuchs with the Huron Kiwanis Club presented a Builders Club charter and gavel to Amanda Kuntz from the middle school. The Builders Club is a middle school student-driven service club sponsored by Kiwanis like the Key Club in the high school. Kuntz will be the club’s adult advisor.

In other business, the board approved six new hires; accepted five resignations; and approved the final two areas of board policy section B: policy BFB and BHB.

For the complete article see the 12-12-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 12-12-2012 paper.

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