Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2005

Board focuses on bond issue, student success

December 15, 2005

Revised layouts for the district's new elementary school and high school auditorium now have the approval of the Lansing School Board.

The changes reflected requests made by the board at its November meeting after the architects had proposed some cost-cutting measures to keep the projects within the $23.6 million bond issue approved by voters in April.

The presentation by Bruce Mortimer of Wilson and Company, Engineers and Architects, was one of several Monday night that kept board members at their seats for more than three hours.

The revisions included more storage, a walkway through the main office, a combined commons area and more toilets for the first- and second-grade wing at the K-5 elementary school, and more toilets in the lobby of the high school auditorium.

Other changes the board heard about concerned the driveway around the perimeter of the elementary school. One part of the drive had to be moved to skirt a floodplain behind the school, which resulted in play areas being moved and about 40 parking spaces lost.

Mortimer asked the board, which then consented, to approve the schematic drawings and authorize Wilson and Company to move into the design/development phase. Mortimer said the architects would meet with teachers and staff and would have another progress report ready in about six weeks.

Schools superintendent Randal Bagby updated the board on proceeds, expenses and interest earned on the bond issue.

Randal Bagby, Lansing school superintendent

Randal Bagby, Lansing school superintendent

So far, the district has spent $71,757.91 in architect fees and $5,500 on a field survey. The bond has earned $463,525.11 in interest.

Brad Pippen, a member of the 2004-05 Lansing Elementary School site council, gave another presentation at the meeting.

Pippen showed board members the result of a study undertaken by LES site council members last year on how to increase elementary student academic performance. Principal Tim Newton said about 20 percent of his students were performing below grade-level in reading and math.

Basing their findings on published academic research, interviews, feasibility and cost studies, the council recommended the board consider three options to help students succeed: targeted one-on-one tutoring, hiring permanent substitutes and increasing the number of teaching assistants.

After discussions about these and four other options the council had considered, board president Brian Bode asked Pippen to reconvene the group and look at the options again. When the study was done, Pippen said, the bond issue had not yet passed. Now, with a new K-5 elementary school in the works, Bode questioned whether the recommendations might change. Pippen said that while the cost and feasibility of options such as all-day kindergarten may change, the supporting research would not. However, he agreed to report back to the board with revised findings.

Lansing High School social studies teacher Tracy Hutton also presented information about student performance to the board. Hutton showed the board the results of 2004-05 standardized tests, state assessments and graduation/dropout rates.

Ninth-, 10th- and 11th-graders who took a standardized Iowa Test of Education Development scored about 60 percent higher than the national average in reading. The students also scored above the target reading rate on the Kansas assessments. Hutton said reading was and would continue to be a focus in all subjects.

In math, students showed some slight dips in scores on the Iowa test and state assessment. Hutton said she and other members of the high-school steering committee were looking at ways to address the problems.

Hutton said writing was the strongest area for LHS students, but ninth-graders showed a slight dip from the previous year's scores. However, on the Kansas assessments, almost no students who took the test last spring were considered unsatisfactory or basic in skill level.

Science and social studies grades both increased, Hutton said. Graduation percentage rates remain high, in the upper 90s, she said, and dropout rates are at 1-2 percent.

In other action, the board:

¢ Adopted the agenda and approved the consent agenda

School Board vice president Shelly Gowdy

School Board vice president Shelly Gowdy

¢ Heard acknowledgements from board member Karalin Alsdurf and board vice president Shelly Gowdy. Alsdurf recognized Lansing High School alumni Leslie Goodlin and Brett Culbert for their success at the Cameron Christmas Classic forensics tournament in Cameron, Okla. The Kansas City Kansas Community College students won the duo interpretation championship at the tournament. Gowdy thanked Lansing Middle School principal Kerry Brungardt and Lansing schools assistant superintendent Donna Hughes for leading a roundtable discussion on goal setting for site councils at a Kansas Association of School Boards conference.

¢ Reviewed new administrative reports from building principals, which included enrollment information, upcoming events and acknowledgements.

¢ Accepted donations, including $400 from Commerce Bank, $250 to the wrestling club from parent Missy Grote and copies of "Leavenworth Penitentiary: A History of America's Oldest Federal Prison" by local author Johnny Johnston for each school library from MidAmerican Bank & Trust Company.

¢ Approved a Junior Tri-M Music Honor Society chapter at Lansing Middle School after a student presentation.

¢ Approved an agreement between the city of Lansing and the school district on the use of facilities. It was the same as the agreement last year.

¢ Approved a memorandum of understanding between Lansing Correctional Facility and the school district, which has been in place since 1988.

¢ Approved with amendments to wording a memorandum of understanding between Lansing Police and the school district. The memo provides a guideline as to when police should become involved in school matters.

¢ Approved a waiver of the out-of-district enrollment deadline to allow a student moving from Indiana to attend Lansing High School next semester.

¢ Approved with clarification of the insurance policy an LHS French Club trip to Quebec in summer 2006.

¢ Tabled a proposed policy change that would require schools to notify parents when a student's grade drops below a "C." Board members Alsdurf, Gowdy and Beth Stevenson took issue with provisions that the notification would be sent via e-mail, citing that not all families in the district have computers or Internet access. The board will take up the issue again at its Jan. 9 meeting.

¢ Approved personnel appointments, including Renee Potter as LHS social studies teacher to replace Kevin Riemann, who resigned Dec. 1 to take a job with the Kansas National Education Association. Christina Hoverson, LHS math teacher, was approved to take over as junior class sponsor.

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