Butler County Times Gazette
  • 490 sees activity participation increase, spike in bullying, classroom success

  • The USD 490 Board of Education held a special meeting Monday evening to review the strategic plan and where they are at on several issues.
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  • The USD 490 Board of Education held a special meeting Monday evening to review the strategic plan and where they are at on several issues.
    The first item they looked at was extracurricular participation this year.
    EMS Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Heath Elliott talked about participation at the middle school.
    For seventh and eight grade, fall sports participation was at about 55 percent, while winter was at 48 percent and spring was 40 percent, although there are only two sports activities at the middle school in the spring.
    Comparing those rates from the 2008-2009 school year to this year they went from 45 percent to 55 percent in the fall; winter went from 40 percent to 48 percent; and spring went from 25 percent to 40 percent.
    They also saw an increase in non-sports extracurricular activities such as band, orchestra, Scholars Bowl and more from 2007-2008 until now.
    At the high school, the numbers went up in the fall, mainly because of an increase in football participation. They also had to cut students in volleyball this year, something they haven’t done in the past because not enough went out for the sport. Girls tennis was up too.
    Cross country was down a bit, but Ennis said they had the best cheer and dance tryouts ever this last spring. In wrestling, numbers were down, but quality was up, and the girls basketball continues to be a struggle with getting girls to participate. Bowling is a sport they have to cut every year.
    The spring remained consistent overall, with numbers up slightly in swimming, down in women’s track and up in baseball.
    “There has been a lot of participation from freshmen in the spring,” Ennis said. “More so than normal.”
    Next, the board looked at information on the learning environment in the schools. This information came from 2,459 formal classroom observations that were conducted.
    According to the information, 94 percent of the time teachers are using proximity appropriately. This means they are where they should be depending on the situation, such as behind their desk or spending time with students.
    They also looked at the use of technology, as well as use of textbooks and worksheets.
    For lecturing, the number was lower than what student would think it is, with it being only about 14 percent of the time district wide.
    Looking at student engagement, 92 percent of the time 80 to 100 percent were engaged.
    “Our walk-through tells us what we’re looking for in good instruction,” said Givens. “It lets them see how that looks in other people’s classrooms.”
    Next, the board looked at course catalogues, something that is now available online through the school’s Web site. This way it can be updated as state expectations change.
    Page 2 of 2 - One area the district was below target was on students being taken to a separate facility, which was information that came from the federal government so it was two years behind. This was because of a lot of special education programs that are in different schools.
    They also looked at the post secondary survey. In 2007, 54 percent of the graduates had to take remedial coursework in college. Last year that was down to 31 percent, compared to 25 percent across the state.
    One other thing for students was the Vision 20-20 mentors.
    Givens said those mentors will move into the middle school for the first time next year as the classes continue to move up.
    Another topic in the plan was salaries in the state, looking at salary improvements and salary schedules.
    Norm Wilks, director of fiscal services and utilities, said they have been able to increase a little each year, allowing them to stay above the median as they’ve gone through the years.
    Other topics looked at risk behavior; drug, alcohol and tobacco use; and bullying data.
    Last year, they saw a spike in the bullying data on if students felt uncomfortable or unsafe.
    “Last year we saw a spike in how often students were bullied at school,” Givens said. “Before that it was even.”
    There was some conflicting data from the student survey, where them seeing someone bullied went down. The number who said they ignored bullying went down, while the number who joined in was more than the state level. In addition, more were reporting bullying to a teacher or adult.
    Looking at students’ perceptions of teachers reactions to bullying, Givens said, “most of our kids think they stop it and solve the problem, but what you need to be worried about is why did last year spike. Will it go back down this year or will it stay up in comparison to everyone else?”
    They also looked at discipline levels in the schools.
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