Greene Co school board takes ‘flunking’ out of literacy policy

The policy of the Greene County Schools will no longer be to retain students who are significantly behind in reading. The board of education at its Oct. 18 meeting revised the district’s literacy policy, substituting retention with an “intensive reading support program.”

The policy revisions were written with input from the board and school staff, including reading specialist Julie Neal.

Superintendent Tim Christensen described the intensive reading support as students “getting a double dose of reading.” Students whose test scores show they are deficient in reading will continue to have reading with their classmates, and will also have reading at their instructional reading level. A fourth grader who reads at a second grade level would have reading twice a day, once with fourth graders and then intensive teaching at the second grade level, for example. That teaching would not necessarily be in a second grade classroom, but in an individual or small group setting.

The former policy was written to comply with a state mandate that students be retained if they were deficient in reading and didn’t attend summer school. The state backed away from implementing that mandate, leaving the school district with a tougher policy than was required.

The revised policy still includes parental notification that a student should attend summer school. A student who doesn’t can still be promoted to the next grade, but he or she will have the intensive reading support during the next school year until tests show he is proficient. A student who does attend summer school will not be placed in the intensive program during the school year.

Most of the business conducted at the Oct. 18 meeting was less directly related to education.

The board held a public hearing on selling the softball field in Grand Junction to the city of Grand Junction. There were no comments, and after closing the hearing the board approved a motion to sell the field to the city for $1.

The board also approved leasing the baseball field in Rippey from the city of Rippey for $100 for another year. The district also pays Roger Norgren $300 a year for parking near the field.

The board approved soliciting bids for asbestos removal at the school building in Grand Junction. The board also agreed to let Christensen move forward with selecting a collection agency to work with unpaid school meal accounts. The board did not talk about the threshold for referring an account to collection.

The board approved a pair of student field trips that were already fully planned. Seven FFA members are going to the national FFA convention in Indianapolis, IN, Oct. 25-28. Twelve students in the high school hospitality class are going to Fraser, CO, Nov. 3-6.

The board approved sharing the services of English language learner teacher Denise Carpenter with Prairie Valley/Southeast Webster Grand. That district will pay Greene County on an hourly basis for Carpenter’s services.

Superintendent Christensen reported that the district’s certified enrollment is down 9.5 students from last year. “I’d love to be even or even up, but down 9.5 is a far cry from down 50 like we were last year. I’m very pleased with that,” he said.

The board set Monday, Nov. 20, for the next regular board meeting. The third Wednesday next month falls during the Iowa Association of School Boards convention. Members of the board will hold an informal question and answer session Monday, Nov. 27, from 7 to 8 pm at the Scranton Community Center.

Board president Mark Peters is continuing to end each meeting with positive comments from the board. That practice was initiated by Dr David Ohrt last spring. Board member Sam Harding mentioned holding a recent wedding rehearsal dinner at the Ram Restaurant, providing a fundraising opportunity to students. “They did a fabulous job. The food was great, the service was great,” he said.

Board member Catherine Wilson reported attending a Jump Start Monday at the elementary school recently. “It was a fabulous thing. I wish all our schools could do it,” she said. She also commented on a visit to the high school classrooms of Kirsten Carman and Patty Fisher. “It’s fun to be in the schools and see things working how they’re supposed to be working,” was her comment.

Board member Dr Steve Karber noted the passion of Jefferson-Scranton graduate Chris Deal for the commmunity as he presented the concept of a regional career academy adjacent to a new high school earlier in the meeting. “We need to start listening to these young guys because they’re going to have to live in this community. They need to build it and we need to listen,” Karber said.

Minutes of the Oct. 18 board of education meeting are posted under the Calendar/Agenda tab.

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