Committee to Study the Mission of CHS
October 25, 2006
Attending: Anne Freske, Lee Kounovsky, Ellen Adler, Sharon Heater, Shirley Burrus, Ken Donner, Heather Dorman-Scott, Terrie Chrones, Bill Martin, John Moran, Sue Bowers
Anne Freske opened the meeting at 6:50 a.m. The group approved the proposed agenda, which included the three topics highlighted at the last meeting: Institutional Expectations, Special Ed. and TAG and Creswell HS Marketing. The minutes of the September meeting were approved.
Mrs. Freske suggested starting with the Special Ed./TAG topic, as Ellen Adler was with us this month. Mr. Kounovsky shared that the School Board will be working on re-writing the District’s policy on TAG programs. Mr. Donner said there had been discussion on this topic at the Labor-Management Committee meeting, including the need to have a K-12 focus rather than individual building programs. Ms. Adler expressed hope that the next budget would provide some funding for TAG efforts. It was noted that most districts have at least some fractional FTE of staff time devoted to TAG programming. CMS has staff with some special TAG expertise and has formed a TAG Committee. At CHS, Mrs. Zacharias informs teachers about identified TAG students. Teachers are expected to provide individual opportunities, as needed, to meet their needs.
Heather shared her experience as an identified TAG student. She remembers getting a paper in grade school inviting her to a camp, nothing happening during middle school and recently getting an extra book on economics to read from Mr. Martin. Mr. Donner and others concurred that our recent TAG “programs” have been almost non-existent. Many years ago, there was an annual meeting with the counselor and Ms. Adler’s counterpart to review each TAG student’s situation. At this point, there are no tests given other than the state assessments, which are not geared to identify special skills. The question was raised whether considering TAG as “special education” category might be a way to force some funding. It was agreed that the District Administration and School Board need to clarify a TAG plan for the district as a whole. Mr. Kounovsky will be sure that Mrs. Robertson, Mrs. Burrus, Mr. Donner, and Mrs. Zacharias are kept in the loop with the Board’s new policy efforts.
Turning to Special Education issues, Ms. Adler shared some cost information, noting that we are spending an average of $30,000 per year for 14 students who are attending programs at other locations. She feels that by having two teachers and aides here, we are able to keep more of our students at CHS, which helps conserve our funds. The federal government’s focus on Transition (the 18-21 years) for special education students has brought the funding for Mr. Douglas’s position.
Mrs. Freske asked whether the students receiving Special Education services spend their entire day with Special Education teachers. The CHS teachers shared that most of the students have math and English with either Ms. Davis or Ms. Hanzlik, but their science, social studies and elective classes are generally with students of all abilities mixed together. Mr. Martin generally enjoys teaching these mixed groupings, feeling that it helps all the students when they are exposed to one another’s varying attitudes. He expressed concerns about some hard-working Special Ed. students who have had trouble at LCC and elsewhere after leaving high school. Perhaps the programs here could teach them about some of the regulations and empower them to become self-advocates for services in the future.
The discussion then turned to the need for CHS to self-advocate with the community and the School Board. Ideally, all Creswell families would want their high school students to attend CHS. Mrs. Freske shared her frustration at hearing negative comments over the 8 years she has been on the School Board, while she knows we have a very good staff and good facilities here. She noted that some of the community concern remains from the heavy staff cuts that were made several years ago. Several examples were shared about students who have done very well after graduating from CHS. A suggestion was made to bring some of those students in to share their stories or to research what their successes have been. Another was to set up a “wall of success” to share those kinds of stories. This led to another brief discussion of resources, as no one was identified in the current organization that would have time for this sort of research.
As several in attendance had to leave for other obligations, the discussion became a bit more scattered. Thoughts shared included:
· High expectations are important, but we also have to understand our clientele, which is not the same as that of Marist.
· What will be the reaction if grades fall significantly should be try to “raise the bar?”
· We need to start planning now for the increased number of students we should expect from all the new construction in town.
· The paperwork burden is high for everyone, but especially the Special Ed. teachers. Should they have another prep. period to be able to keep up?
· Perhaps Mr. Ophus and faculty members should try to meet with the Chamber of Commerce or other city leaders to help “market” the high school.
· Could a marketing firm be hired to give us some ideas?
Mrs. Freske adjourned the meeting at 7:55, noting the need to continue discussing some of these ideas. She will notify the group of the next meeting date after checking with Mr. Ophus. Likely it will move back to a Thursday morning, as Wednesday is difficult for the middle school staff.
Sue Bowers, Secretary