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R-1 encourages student wellness

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Monett R-1 School District is looking at ways to encourage wellness among the students.

During the October Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Brad Hanson presented board members with information about possibly partnering with the Monett Area YMCA and Cox Monett Hospital.

Startling statistics showed childhood obesity has become a significant problem nationwide. Hanson advised taking steps to assist in alleviating the problem.

The school's health services program, prepared by school nurse Carole Hamm, her staff and Assistant Superintendent Mike Dawson, described goals and program activities. Hamm, a registered nurse, along with two licensed practical nurses and a health clerk focus on children's daily needs, health screenings, flu shot clinics and employee wellness programs.

According to records, the school nursing staff received 14,298 visits from students in a year's time, or 91 percent of all those enrolled. In addition, 115 fifth graders participated in lipid and blood sugar profiles in the Cardiac Kids project. Six students qualified for the asthmas education program after screenings were done for all fifth and sixth graders by the Monett Community Asthma Network.

All students at Monett Elementary saw the "Land of Smiles" Delta dental program and the Lions Club vision van screen all Monett Elementary School students.

For the staff, 46 participated in the Employee Health Care and Health Risk Assessments. The Monett Fire Department provided training in CPR and the nursing staff conducted a flu shot clinic.

The report recommended hiring additional staff and finding another funding source. Health services staff presently serve multiple buildings and lack the time to provide education and programming.

Technology use grows

Hanson updated board members on the use of technology, especially the district's website. Comparing a 30-day period in September and October with a year ago, visits for the high school increased from 15,000 in 2011 to 74,000 this year. The difference is largely due to the initiation of the One-to-the-World laptop program.

At the middle school, webpage usage grew from 10,700 to 21,146. Most of the other buildings saw increased of 2,000 visits or more.

"The numbers showed we're learning to drive more of our instructions, materials and expectations for students on the website," said Hanson. "There's more available, from notes and PowerPoints and assignments that can be accessed from home."

Hanson said classrooms have not become 100 percent paperless, but more work than ever before is being done online.

Students take 10 or 15 question quizzes on-line and receive them back, already graded, as soon as they finish. Increasing feedback is viewed as a significant way to increase learning.

To get a sense of how many visits 74,000 at the high school represents, Hanson calculated approximately 85,000 visits would represent every high school student visiting the website every hour of every classroom day.

"When we started the One-to-the-World Initiative, we felt learning could become a 24/7 experience for kids," Hanson said. "These numbers show that's definitely in place."

Special services update

Special services director Elaine O'Neal updated the board on current efforts serving the 280 students with individual education programs (IEPs). O'Neal said the strategy of instructing students in the general education curriculum remains the best approach to reaching the achievement goals for special education students.

Co-teaching between a general education instructor and a special education teacher trained in working together has proven to increase instructional intensity, O'Neal reported.

For the students who took the MAP-A alternative standardized state test, all 11 achieved the proficiency rate, which is better than the state average. Other students with IEPs recorded slight declines in those hitting the top proficiency scores on state tests last spring. The average gain was 3 percent in communication arts scores. The state approved target for the current year is a 5 percent increase in scores.

In 2012, the graduation rate for students with IEPs reached 100 percent for the first time, and the high school dropout rate was zero.

O'Neal reported reading achievement remains the primary concern for her program. Math achievement has not yet been thoroughly addressed, as the classroom data has been inconsistent. She would like to see the percentage of time increase that students with IEPs spend in the general education curriculum.

O'Neal recommended the board creat a full-time coach/process coordinator for the coming year. Another person would support the district's ability to maintain special education initiatives district wide. She also recommended keeping the same number of certified staff positions that have made co-teaching possible.

In other business, the board approved the bus ridership list for the first semester. Presently 1,152 students, or close to half of those attending classes, ride the buses.

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