Jefferson and Lincoln Elementary schools will be conducting a pilot counseling curriculum, receiving support from the USD 490 Board of Education during their meeting Monday.
“We have a new counselor at Jefferson and Lincoln,” said Jefferson Principal Susan Holthaus. “She comes to us as a qualified counselor but as a rookie to elementary.”
With the timing of a new counselor, the principals, Holthaus, along with Lincoln Principal Linda Johnson, wanted to make some changes to the role of the counselor and their expectations.
“One of those things was we would like her to present lessons to students once a month in our classrooms,” Holthaus said.
She had a friend who had used a curriculum in her district and found it to be beneficial, and Holthaus suggested the counselor look at that.
The program is Second Step Skills for K-5 Social and Academic Success.
“It offered a curriculum that was on a continuum of K-fifth grade,” Holthaus said. “We are trying very hard to unite our buildings as much as we can and make those transitions easier.”
Lincoln and Jefferson are the only two elementary schools in the district that are not K-5 in one building now.
The curriculum focuses on such things as staying focused and listening and problem solving.
The schools used their discretionary money through their PTOs to purchase the program.
Superintendent Sue Givens said they took the program to the District Steering Committee as a potential pilot curriculum and got their go ahead for that. The board approved continuing that as a pilot this year and not just a supplemental piece of curriculum.
In other business, the board:
• heard from Lora Meirowsky on behalf of the El Dorado NEA. She read two letters to the board regarding the recent Standards of Excellence ceremony and American Education Week, which is this week.
“Let me begin by thanking the Board of Education for their contributions to the El Dorado Public Schools,” Meirowsky said. “On behalf of the members of El Dorado NEA, I would like to discuss issues of student achievement and the recognition of the hard work of our students.”
She said while the Standards of Excellence are one marker of success, they see many successes on a daily basis.
“The celebration of our student assessment had an unfortunate impact on many of the staff,” she continued. “Teachers and many students experienced this as blameful.”
She said they objected to the tone of part of the presentation during the ceremony.
Page 2 of 3 - “At the end of the assembly, some teachers were offered a half day inservice,” she said. “It is the belief of the El Dorado NEA every teacher has a vital part of success of students. Most importantly they are doing their best for all students. Given the dedication of El Dorado staff to public schools and students, we are asking you extend the half day leave to all teachers.”
Teachers at Jefferson, Lincoln and Grancdview elementaries were given a half work day off because those school met or exceeded their Standars of Excellence from last year.
The next day, Givens responded to the statement.
“We offer multiple opportunities for student and staff incentives in our district, as I strongly believe we must celebrate those things which we wish to repeat,” Givens said. “The District Standard of Excellence Celebration is an example of celebrating accomplishments at the building level with district level goals as added incentive. Other examples are our individual teacher goals for attendance and home visits, both of which result in similar incentives. Certainly, it is always disappointing when we do not achieve goals we establish as a district and I will not sugarcoat disappointment or the clear expectation that we be accountable. It is critical however, that our islands of excellence be celebrated, whether those islands are individual or building level and this is accomplished through more avenues than this single event.”
• heard an update on the middle school from Principal Karla King.
She talked about her goals for the school, including more parent communication to help with the transition from elementary to middle school.
“We started out the school year doing some role modeling by having a team appoint a person a role and playing out some scenarios,” she said.
Her second goal is looking at a math intervention time where they take 30 minutes out of the schedule to do math instruction using games and hands-on activities.
The final goal is to showcase different strategies teachers are doing and sharing those in faculty meetings.
• received an update on state and federal programs, including funding and changes to Title I and at-risk funding.
• appointed Leon Leachman as the KASB delegate.
• approved the permanent right of way on 30th Street required by the city in their planning process to extend utilities to the new middle school.
• heard about a long-term maintenance fund request for $130,000 for the BG Products Veterans Sports Complex.
“When you look at the funds that were contributed and the funds that were raised through private contributions and the price of all that, programs are essentially the same,” Wilks said. “Many of the pledges will pay that amount in over five to 10 years. We have a current need for cash.”
Page 3 of 3 - In 10 to 12 years, they will have some needs for replacement of turf or replacing the track surface, so those pledges that come in in the future will be earmarked for those repairs.
The Butler County Educational Facilities Authority asked the three entities involved to pay the $130,000 now to meet the cash flow needs.
The district will have a prepayment agreement drafted so the money is credited to their long-term maintenance account. The board approved the payment.