Archive for Wednesday, October 24, 2001

School Board hears grade configuration report

October 24, 2001

The Basehor-Linwood School District is one the last districts in Kansas to maintain a traditional junior high school system.

However, that could change in the next few years, and most likely should change according to the findings of a Grade Configuration Committee organized by the district this year.

The committee reported its finding to the Basehor-Linwood School Board on Monday, Oct. 15, at which time no recommendation was given to the school board for action.

However, the committee gave School Board members an idea of what direction the district should go in the future.

"A majority of schools in Kansas use a sixth through eighth-grade middle school system," said Mike Boyd, who chaired the committee.

Boyd said Basehor-Linwood, Olathe and Lawrence were the few remaining school districts that had a seventh through ninth-grade junior-high system.

From the research, the committee found sixth-graders are developmentally closer to seventh and eighth-graders than kindergarten through fourth grade. In some instances, the committee found studies that showed fifth-graders were developmentally closer to sixth and seventh-graders than elementary aged students.

However, Boyd said Basehor-Linwood would be best served with a sixth through eighth-grade middle school system, keeping sixth-graders in more isolated classroom situations until they reached the seventh-grade .

When the district would consider realigning to a middle-school system was not discussed at the meeting. The School Board will use the committee's finding when the district moves forward with grade configuration changes, school officials said.

School Board members also heard from Brenda DeGroot, during the focus-on-learning segment of the meeting.

DeGroot is the director of the school district's Virtual Charter School.

"We provide an opportunity for children who don't fit into traditional public education, whether it was decided by their parents or for a medical reason," she said.

The program has become so successful that the state legislature uses Basehor-Linwood as model when discussing virtual charter schools, Superintendent Cal Cormack said.

DeGroot said not all students and parents are satisfied with the program, but, since starting the virtual school three years ago, the number of enrolled students has grown from 63 to 366.

The Virtual Charter School provides educational programming via the computer and Internet.

Many of the students in the program have home-school backgrounds. Some students return to home schooling, while others have integrated into regular public school classes.

"We truly believe that's the best place for them," she said of latter statement.

The Virtual School, along with Glenwood Ridge Elementary, Basehor Elementary, Linwood Elementary and Basehor-Linwood Middle School was approved by the board to receive a site license for the Fast ForWord reading programs.

Fast ForWord is a scientific learning strategy designed to improve reading among students. Fast ForWord is implemented through computer software and Internet programs.

Cormack said the program has been successful in helping students that have been struggling with reading.

Cormack asked the board to approve the purchase of the site licenses, not to exceed $50,000, because the program is currently licensed for Linwood, but not the other schools.

In other action, the School Board:

accepted the resignations of Kyle Caton, custodian; John Robison, building technology coordinator; Dawn Waterman, secretary at BLMS; and Tom Cooper, head football coach a BLMS.

approved the contracts of Jeff Woirhay, high school assistant girls basketball coach; Kara Trent, building technical coordinator at BLMS; Ronald Turner, custodian; Jason Ellis, custodian.

approved the hiring of a classroom aides at BLMS and GRE to help with the reading programs.

was informed of the Basehor City Council considering the adoption of a downtown revitalization program. Don Swartz, director of operations, told board member if the district and city both adopt the program, the school district would not lose any tax funding.

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