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Montana schools asked to comply with federal AYP benchmarks - West Yellowstone News Online: News

Montana schools asked to comply with federal AYP benchmarks

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  • Guideline change discussion...

    West Yellowstone school board trustee John Gospodarek considers recommended changes to the second offense guidelines for the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Controlled Substance discipline policy for co-curricular and school sponsored activities for junior high and high school students during the regular school board meeting on Tuesday.

Posted: Sunday, July 17, 2011 4:09 pm

Adequate Yearly Progress is a concern that remains on the radar for the West Yellowstone School District.

Montana has until Aug.15 to comply with federal No Child Left Behind benchmarks or the state may receive cuts to a portion of the Title I Part A funding allocated to the state in the upcoming year.

Title I Part A funding helps ensure that all children meet the challenging state academic standards, according to the Department of Education's website.

Those challenging academic standards include concentrating first on student success rates for reading and math.

The Montana Office of Public Instruction informed school superintendent Lael Calton in May that percentages for annual measurable objectives, which apply to students completing the Montana Comprehensive Assessment Test, will stay the same as the current requirements for math and reading that were used for the 2010 school year.

The school district uses those results to assist with determining Adequate Yearly Progress to make sure they are in line with No Child Left Behind benchmarks.

"Those percentages help determine whether or not the school district has met the learning targets that contribute to measuring adequate yearly progress," Calton said at the May school board meeting.

State education superintendent Denise Juneau wrote a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, informing him that Montana will leave the percentage requirements the same for the upcoming school year on April 25.

The letter was then mailed off to superintendents across the state, according to Calton.

Students in the West Yellowstone school district will no longer work to reach an 83 percent success rate in reading and a 68 percent success rate in math with a recent update from Duncan. School students will instead have to strive to achieve a 92 percent success rate in reading proficiency and an 84 percent success rate in math proficiency to meet the benchmark requirements for the 2011-2012 school year annual measurable objectives, once testing is completed.

"AYP needs to make corrections. That being said, we did not make AYP (this year)," Calton said.

Using the bad calculations, 255 schools did not end up making AYP out of a total of 811 public schools, according to information Calton received.

"With the new formula it's estimated that at least 383 schools won't make AYP," she said.

Duncan wrote Juneau a letter on July 1 informing her that the state is out of compliance with its requirements for the upcoming school year. Juneau was also made aware about the option of funding cuts if the state doesn't come into compliance.

"Am I worried? No. I think it is something we have to look at," Calton said. "It was a system made for perfection and we're human beings."

Calton is waiting to see if the issue is resolved or an agreement is reached by the Aug. 15 deadline.

In other business, school board trustees conducted the first reading for proposed changes to be made to the parent/student, teacher and classified staff handbooks.

The majority of Tuesday night's discussions focused around recommended changes to the school dress code and Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Controlled Substance discipline policy for co-curricular and school sponsored activities for junior high and high school students.

Students are currently dismissed from participation in all school related activities for the remainder of the co-curricular season after a second offense with the policy that is in place.

Calton discussed further options with the student council last school year and it was suggested that students are suspended for a period of four weeks and that they will still be required to attend scheduled practices during the time of the suspension or further suspensions may result.

Additionally, adding the requirement for students to complete 10 hours of volunteer service during the four-week suspension with service being preapproved by the administration has been added to the list under portions outlining the repercussions of a student's second offense to the policy during the first reading.

Students will still be required to obtain a professional evaluation at the student's expense and they will remain suspended from attending all other co-curricular and school sponsored activities.

Trustees readjusted the wording for that portion of the suggested add-on and want to clearly state that students can attend scheduled practices if the student is progressing with the professional evaluator.

A second reading of the policy will be on the agenda for the August school board meeting.

West Yellowstone High School varsity boys' basketball coach Ron Binfet believes keeping the players on the sports teams is beneficial. He dealt with a group of suspended players last season.

"Make it hurt. That's what I think," he said, noting that players see the impact of attending practice, but not being given the opportunity to play in games as a wake up call.

"As a coach it was pretty gratifying to watch those young men work through that situation," Binfet said. 

His basketball players had to figure out how to pull together and work as a team with a number of their fellow teammates being suspended last season.

The school district has also continued with their efforts to fill open positions for classified staff, certified staff and co-curricular positions.

Trustees unanimously approved to hire Kerry Schad as the Title I paraprofessional and Cashena Tingey as a playground/instructional aide pending the results of a background check.

Additionally, trustees approved to hire Lanie Gospodarek as the varsity head volleyball coach, Jed Norman as the head Nordic ski coach, Erin Zahariev as the head junior high girls' basketball coach and Dan Hambarian as the head junior high boys' basketball coach, Lynda Sloan as the junior class sponsor and Debra Fleming as the advisor for Close Up and International Club.

The position for a special education teacher for grades seven through 12 remains open.

In terms of maintenance to the school grounds, trustees approved the price quote of $8,857.20 for Rick Washington to seal coat, stripe and fill cracks in the school parking lot. Calton noted that Washington donates the cost of the paint for striping the parking lot. 

The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m. on the school art room.

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