Pierce City District seeking new elementary reading curriculum

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt series is 10 years old

Education is still moving forward, even if COVID-19 (coronavirus) has slowed the rest of the world.

Administrators at Pierce City’s Central Elementary School are looking into the possibility of replacing the elementary reading curriculum.

“Emily [Scott, elementary principal], is looking into three new curriculums,” said Kelli Alumbaugh, superintendent of schools. “The current curriculum by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is out-dated. It’s 10 years old. I really don’t understand how we can have a curriculum that is 10 years old, but we are on it.”

Alumbaugh said the new curriculum would help bring fidelity across the board for teachers and students alike.

“The cost can range from $54,000 for kindergarten through fifth to $70,000 for up to six years,” she said. “It’s expensive.”

Funds to pay for the new educational materials are available through the Title 1 fund.

Alumbaugh said the venue for this year’s junior-senior prom has canceled the event, and all other calendared events are canceled at this time, as well.

“The [Centers for Disease Control] has recommended that, for the next eight weeks, we cancel or postpone in-person events,” Alumbaugh said. “We are closed through April 24, and we will reassess at that time on whether to open up again or not. The state is advising us not to count on it. [Department of Elementary and Secondary Education] says our funding for average daily attendance will not be affected. Students are still accessing their assignments either in person, picking up their packets, or online. There will be no MAP testing or end of course testing this year.”

When asked about graduation ceremonies, Alumbaugh said she still plans for seniors to be able to celebrate their milestone event.

“I still want to have graduation,” she said. “I don’t care if it’s July or August, they will have graduation.”

Alumbaugh said although the district hopes to host graduation in May, the district has to wait for more guidance from the state based on the state of the current coronavirus pandemic.

Board members also unanimously approved paying the district’s hourly staff throughout the school closing.

Currently, Alumbaugh has hourly staff rotating through and assisting with the distribution of the food service meals for students.

“They aren’t getting their normal hours, but every single hourly employee has called in and asked what they can do to help,” Alumbaugh said.

“If we are getting the funding, I say go ahead,” said Greg Drollinger, board member.

“If you want to keep good people, you have to treat them right,” Alumbaugh said.

Board members were also advised about the district’s employee health premiums increasing by nearly 5 percent, and the budgetary impact of the state’s mandated base salary schedule.

“These are just some things to think about and work on as we get closer to budget time,” she said.

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