By Jill Richardson
Kuna Melba News reporter
The State of the District report was presented by Superintendent Andy Grover, Junior and Senior High Principle Todd Shumway and Elementary Principle Sherry Ann Adams at the monthly School Board meeting.
The overriding theme among them all was the idea of mastery; students mastering the subjects instead of just learning information for a test.
“I think the best example I could use in understanding mastery is our kids take 13 years of English in our school systems,” said Superintendent Grover. “We still have kids that graduate that can’t write a complete sentence. Somewhere along those 13 years, they never mastered anything. So you have to break things up into concepts and have them master concepts at each of the levels, so when they get to the end they have a pretty good mastery of everything they have done and not just identifying a noun but having no idea how to use it.”
Overall goals for the district include raising student academic scores by training teachers in “Best Practices”, introduction of new math curriculum in the elementary, move curriculum to Common Core district wide, become teacher driven instead of “top-down”, establish a strong fund balance, work towards elimination of the supplemental levy and continue to fund as much as possible with grants while continuing to look for grant opportunities.
“Best Practice” training includes the Marzano Training on the nine best practices in teaching.
Those training have been done every other Friday and started as administrative led and have moved toward the goal of being teacher led training.
As teachers are trained, they return to the school and train others through videos and information.
New this year in the district is a computer lab at the elementary school, web based Accelerated Reader, interactive white boards in every classroom, new math curriculum and an additional classroom.
“The computer lab has been a blessing for our kids,” said Adams. “Every one of our kids, first through sixth grades, spent forty minute on the computer every single day.”
The district budget decreased from 4.4 million in 2009 to 3.7 million in 2012.
Despite the budget cuts, the Fund Balance has increased $483,451 over the same time period.
With the failure of Prop 1, 2 and 3, it could pull $210,000 from the budget that the state had allocated prior to the vote.
The state has ensured that district that they are working on ways to get that money back into the districts and not have the districts suffer.
Needs for the upcoming year include the direct intervention for ELL (English Language Learners) students, monitor the class sizes and continue to monitor and address safety issues.
In the high school, professional technical classes are being offered to students.
Classes include health occupations, business computers, entrepreneurship, food science, small gas engines, agriculture education and zoology/botany.
Each classroom is equipped with a SmartBoard, projector and access to the internet which has brought growth of 4% or more in all grades 7-11 in English.
Moving forward the district will be implementing Common Core curriculum over the next two years, working towards continuing to grow the academics to the 75% to 85%, showing gains in Hispanics and poverty students 5% from the current 1%, application of multiple teaching strategies by every teacher, work with SDE to keep Melba at the forefront of education and by 2015-1016 start the building of a new elementary.