Committee to Study the
February 24, 2006
Attending: Anne Freske, Lee Kounovsky, Sharon Heater, Ken Donner, Shirley Burrus, Terrie Chrones, Rob Edwards, Jan Ophus, Sue Bowers
Anne Freske opened the meeting at 6:45 a.m. The group approved the proposed agenda and the minutes of the January 27 meeting.
Anne shared an announcement about a meeting on Expanded Options at Lane ESD on Friday, March 10. This relates to Senate Bill 300 requirements and accelerated credit options. Jan has been asked to review sample policy language on this topic for the district. The legislation puts the priority on “at-risk” students.
Terrie brought up the concern of how supplemental funds for such programs are allocated, noting that some students in her College Now classes are not able to pay their $20 lab fees, yet the district is paying the fees for other students to attend LCC (RTEC) and take online classes. She stressed the need to encourage and provide support for additional staff to become qualified to offer College Now classes here. Lee is involved with the Professional Development Committee, which is also exploring this issue.
Lee brought up the need for a more formal application/screening process for those who participate in RTEC-type opportunities. A number of Churchill students started an Aviation program at LCC, but quit partway through. Screening possibilities include requiring a co-pay and meeting prescribed scores on math and/or English placement tests. (Mr. Ophus noted that LCC’s English test was given to our juniors earlier this week and will give both the school and students a good sense of their proficiency.)
Anne shared some budget discussion from yesterday morning’s Finance Committee meeting. The Middle School feels strongly that they need to keep their “Skills for Success” position, which has been funded mostly by a grant until now. With grant now gone and flat funding projected for next year, they will likely cut .5 FTE from their Science teaching staff, but are looking for a place to find the rest of the money needed for the “Skills” position. This program has about 25 students fully participating, plus another 25 or so receiving extra help in math.
Mr. Ophus discussed this as an example of having to choose
between academics and behavioral/social services in allocating teaching
FTE. At the same time, the state is
talking about adding a third year of science, foreign language and art to
The likelihood of finding additional grant funding for any of our needs is slim, as most of the recently available money has been from federal sources and the federal budget currently has other priorities.
Both CMS and CHS are also looking for funding for an additional music position, with Mr. Green having a growing program and already being stretched too thin. Mr. Ophus said that without additional funding, he would likely have to look at cutting summer school, our Americorps position and distance learning to be able to make this addition.
The Committee members reiterated that personalizing education makes a huge difference for kids, but with limited staff, the demands of a large special education population, large class sizes and dealing with behavioral issues, this is not easy to accomplish.
Terrie suggested that the community needs more information from the school district about these issues. She is familiar with a group that offers online public opinion surveys and wondered about that as a possibility. Questions could be framed that would provide information about our needs and also provide some insight on community priorities. The suggestion was also made that Hugh Turnbull, a retired teacher, is now writing for The Chronicle and could be invited to attend and write about these meetings and the issues being discussed.
Concern was raised about a high percentage of our current ninth grade class not doing well academically and being very apathetic about that. The CMS staff present agreed that group was very challenging for them as well. Rob Edwards shared his surprise with the lack of initiative and follow-through he has experienced when trying to help the juniors with their CRLS graduation requirements. Many do not seem to care whether they will be able to graduate with their class. The suggestion that other students work as mentors was met with comments about their many other time commitments, between their own classes, extra-curricular activities and jobs.
Mr. Ophus raised another example of people’s capacity being “maxed out,” noting that no one from the school district is participating in the Community Improvement effort that has begun, with funding from the Ford Family Foundation. The schools will need to connect with that effort in some way.
Anne closed the meeting by committing to talk with Jennifer Heiss about other options that could be found in the district budget to meet needs discussed this morning. She also asked Terrie to bring a sample of the online survey she had mentioned to the next meeting.
The next meeting of the Committee was set for 6:45 a.m. on Thursday, March 9. The focus of discussion will continue to be personalization of education and how we can “get there from here.”
Respectfully submitted, Sue Bowers, Secretary