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R-1 Board turns down deal with Missouri Career Center

Monday, July 26, 2010

Construction crews from R.E. Smith moved onto the Monett Elementary School campus on Monday morning to begin demolition work for the $7 million expansion and campus consolidation. Within the first hour, crews had removed all the canopies and were also taking out sidewalks and steps on the northwest side. Construction is expected to last for 18 months. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
The Monett R-1 Board of Education has decided against a deal with the Missouri Career Center that would have placed offices for the unemployment center at the Southwest Area Career Center.

Jason Jones and Shirley Click, from the Missouri Career Center, appeared before the board and participated in an extended discussion about the unemployment office's needs. Board members returned to the topic at the end of the meeting and decided against participating.

"The board was very interested in the educational aspect," said Superintendent Dr. John Jungmann. "The office would have a lot of other daily foot traffic with people checking in and doing different things. We'd like to get adults into the night program. The board was not interested in being the office."

New Career Ladder

With the state dropping funding for the Career Ladder program, Jungmann presented the board with a new locally funded version to cover some of the work done by teachers outside of the regular school day. The new version is called TEAM (Tutoring, Enrichment and Mentoring) Monett.

The district will provide funding for teachers engaged in providing extra instruction for students wrestling with subject matter as well as activities outside of the standard curriculum to expand education opportunities. From a survey of faculty over the summer, Jungmann said at least half of the district's teachers are interested in participating. Enrollment will start in August.

Teachers can earn either $750 or $1,500 in the program, depending on the number of hours committed.

"This is what we could do with the amount of money we had," Jungmann said. "This will allow our current tutoring program to continue."

Program changes

State testing in the coming years will be switching entirely to an internet-based system. Students will take Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests on-line, like high school students did last spring for their end-of-course exams.

"With the end-of-course exams, results come back in 24 hours," Jungmann said. "The on-line approach will give us immediate feedback, instead of waiting four months like we do now."

Assistant Superintendent Julie Germann reported the switch will also allow teachers to switch from the autopsy approach they use now, looking at how well the instruction worked after the year ends. Pre-tests will be available to show before and after learning, plus other assessments through the year to diagnose learning progress. Germann expected bumps as the new approach is put in place but felt the end results would be better for everyone.

Germann reported the State Board of Education had formally adopted the national "Common Core Standards" to be used by all Missouri schools. Like the on-line testing, a consequence would be changing to an as-yet unnamed national assessment, replacing MAP tests. Germann said Missouri was heavily involved in a consortium of 30 states designing a new testing format which should be in place by 2012.

At the same time, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was changing how teachers and principals would be evaluated, based on student performance. Germann indicated teacher and administrator groups had raised strong opposition to evaluations tied to how student growth is measured.

Melody Paige, who is moving into her second year of teaching teachers how to better use technology, talked about how all teachers from sixth grade and under have been given laptops and a SmartBoard for classroom use with 30 hours on instruction. Middle and high school teachers received 10 hours of instruction on specific usage.

Teachers tested on a national standard showed a 7 percent improvement in their knowledge of technology standards. Paige said teachers typically need 50 hours of professional development to gain needed skills and opportunities are usually less than that. Paige said the district needs to take what is essential in the curriculum and integrate it with what students find engaging. Interactive technology tools are one way to do that.

Administrative action

Board members voted to hire a new person for English language learners at the middle school. A larger allotment of federal funds under Title III enabled the creation of a half-time position. Sarah Staffenecker, a recent graduate from Missouri State University, was hired for the job.

Jungmann briefed the board on plans for the new teacher orientation on Aug. 2 to Aug. 4 and the opening session on Aug. 12, leading up to the start of classes on Aug. 18.

The contract with schools sending students to the Career Center for the 2010-11 year was approved. Jungmann said no increase is expected in enrollment.

With construction continuing through the year at Monett Elementary School, the board voted to not rent the school gym this year due to liability concerns. The building has in the past been used for ball practice and the YMCA.

Lunch prices were approved with no changes from last year.

The annual Secretary of the Board report to the state was approved. The report reflected the district's spending pattern of saving more money to deal with shortfalls in state funds. An operating reserve of 19.7 percent was an increase over the typical 10-to-15 percent savings.

Board members received a new overview of the district's goals, mission and strategies called a "Plan on a Page." Jungmann said the Comprehensive School Improvement Program (CSIP) had become too massive for anyone to easily understand it. A year ago teachers and administrators began collaborating on a more concise version that could be reduced to one page. Board members took the draft for study and possible action at the August board meeting.

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