Archive for Thursday, May 26, 2005

Basehor-Linwood panel reaffirms commitment to school bond issue

May 26, 2005

Members of the Basehor-Linwood School District's District Advisory Council met Monday to discuss how much progress has occurred since four district goals were outlined and what direction the district should move toward in the future.

One of the goals discussed Monday at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School was the plan for facilities that centers around a future $23 million bond issue. The meeting also included an anticipated first look at preliminary state assessment results.

The DAC is a group of the school district's patrons who banded together to meet and discuss school-related issued with district officials. The group has previously announced support for the proposed bond issue.

Don Swartz, the district's executive director of business and facilities, said the four goals are communications improvements, hiring and retaining qualified staff members, aligning the curriculum and expanding and improving facilities.

On the communications front, Swartz said the district has hired a public relations officer; launched a pilot group for Power School, a program that allows parents to review their students' grades; and implemented improvements to the district's Web site.

During the meeting, district officials and DAC members reaffirmed recent commitments made toward a future bond issue. The plan is to wait until Sept. 20, the date next year's official attendance figures will be finalized, before making any concrete decisions about a possible election day for a bond issue.

"What we have done is developed a plan to take care of enough enrollment to double the student population," Swartz said. "What we still haven't done is determine what the timeline will be for the bond issue."

Swartz said the main ingredients of the bond issue, a new elementary school building at an undetermined location and expansions to existing schools in the district, remain unchanged.

In regards to the goal of hiring and maintaining quality teachers and staff members, Swartz said the district has made a number of advancements. School officials revised the hiring method and implemented a "team concept" that calls for several levels of interviews to determine the right candidate for a given job. The district has also adopted a formal mentoring program for new teachers.

For the final goal, curriculum alignment, steps have been taken to revisit all main areas within the schools' curriculum. Swartz said guides have been created to align each subject matter with state standards and benchmarks.

Preliminary state assessment results that were discussed caused the group to adjourn for the summer on a good note. Hatfield, assistant superintendent, said that although the numbers are preliminary and may change before final figures are posted in October, the results are shaping up to be the best in district history.

"We are really excited and encouraged by the numbers so far," he said.

Out of the 18 testing areas that apply to the district, which include multiple subjects at multiple schools, 12 appeared to achieve standard of excellence designations. If the numbers hold up, each school will achieve the standard of excellence rating in at least one subject area and some schools will realize the achievement in multiple areas.

Additionally, each area is projected to meet or exceed Adequate Yearly Progress, a component of the Bush Administration's No Child Left Behind Act.

Because the scores could change slightly, Hatfield said district officials are waiting to start the celebration. However, if the scores come in as projected, a celebration would be in order.

"It definitely surpasses all of the results we have posted in the last two to three years," he said.

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