Archive for Thursday, February 14, 2008

LHS program for freshmen paying off, district says

February 14, 2008

"It's a work in progress," was the general consensus when it came to the official release of numbers showcasing what seems to be an initial success of Lansing High School's new Freshman Foundation program.

During Monday's Lansing School Board meeting, LHS staff and administrators presented evidence that the program, designed to help freshmen with the transition from middle school, is making a difference when is comes to student's grades.

"A lot of hard work has gone into planning and preparation to get the program to the point now," said Steve Dike, LHS principal. "It's a work in progress. We've learned a lot and we're going to make some adjustments."

After compiling grades from freshmen during the first semester, the school has concluded that that there has been a 9 percent decrease in the number of students receiving a D or F.

During the 2006-2007 school year, 42 percent of freshmen had a grade of D or F in their classes. In the first semester of the 2007-2008 school year, the number of freshmen receiving D's or F's had dropped to 33 percent.

"We're pretty happy about that," said Chris Hoverson, a freshman algebra II teacher.

Out of 210 freshmen that attend LHS, 3 percent are currently off track for graduation, compared to 10 percent a year ago. To be considered "off track" the student must have failed four or more classes and be in danger of repeating freshman year again.

Hoverson then added that the school didn't just want to look at the D's and F's because not all students at LHS get those grades. In a graph presented to board members, Hoverson pointed out that the percentage of students who got A's also rose dramatically.

Hoverson attributed the improvement in grades to three new after-school programs that focus on a student's individual needs as well as the After Class Enrichment program. With these programs, students can no longer receive zeros for assignments that were missed. Instead, if a student fails to turn in an assignment, they must attend ACE, where they are required to come in after school and complete the missed work.

"It's too easy to put in a zero," Hoverson said. "But it's not just taking points off. It means (the students) are missing a concept."

However, establishment of the ACE after-school program may have caused the number of disciplinary problems to increase. Since starting the program, 44 percent of the high school's disciplinary referrals were freshmen, compared to 35 percent during the 2006-2007 school year.

Dan Wessel, LHS assistant principal, said of those 44 percent, 39 of the referrals were related to the ACE program. He said what this shows is that the school is seeing some students choosing to ignore the new rules regarding no zeroes. As students get used to the changes, Wessel said that number could drop.

Tardies also were up for freshmen, compared to a year ago, but officials said the school was enforcing its tardy policy more strictly this year.

In other business, the board:

¢ Approved, 7-0, the resignations of Amy LaFontaine, LMS custodian, Christine Young, LHS dishwasher, Carrie Boorem, LHS aide, and Felicia Yoakam, LHS Lionettes head coach.

¢ Approved, 7-0, the appointments of Anita Parker, LMS counselor aide, and Eddie Fenton, LMS assistant track coach. Randal Bagby was also appointed interim LES principal for the 2008-2009 school year. In a later interview, current LES principal Tim Newton said that his Kansas Army National Guard unit has been alerted that it will be deployed in September. Newton said the date could change or even be canceled but that the school district needed to prepare for his absence.

¢ Approved, 7-0, the transfers of Cindi Cioppa, from third grade to kindergarten, Trisha Croley, from third grade to kindergarten, Angie Grady, from second grade to third grade, Janey Moorhead, from third grade to kindergarten, and Kendra Toedter, from second grade to kindergarten.

¢ Approved, 7-0, the retirements of Jan Jorgensen, LIS principal, and Linda Tubbs, LHS counselor at the end of the current school year.

¢ Approved, 7-0, extending the contracts of Steve Dike, LHS principal, Dan Wessel, LHS assistant principal, Kerry Brungardt, LMS principal, Brooks Jenkins, LMS assistant principal and Tim Newton, LES principal. The renewals did not include salary increases; those will be determined later this year.

¢ Scheduled the next joint meeting with the school board and Lansing City Council for 6 p.m. March 10 in the Lansing Middle School choir room. The meeting will be one hour before the school board's regular scheduled monthly meeting. There will be a presentation by Lansing Police Chief Steve Wayman and Bagby about plans for establishing a School Resource Officer.

¢ Approved, 7-0, to bring in an additional high school assistant baseball coach due to the increased number in students going out for the team this year. The new position will bring the coaching staff up to four. The increased number of students will allow coaches to establish varsity, junior varsity and freshman squads.

¢ Approved, 7-0, to accept a bid of $31,920 from Mid-States School Equipment to purchase benches and tables for the new elementary school building.

¢ Approved, 7-0, to hold the new high school auditorium's unveiling and reception on Wednesday, April 23. Details have not been established but it is expected that the evening will include programs put on by students of various LHS groups.

¢ Accepted, 7-0, the Lansing Teacher of the Year Program Classroom Awards in the amount of $500. There will be one award given to an elementary education teacher and one given to a secondary education teacher. The winners will advance to the Kansas Teacher of the Year contest. Nomination forms will soon be made available.

¢ Heard a presentation by Lisa Hollering, representing the Lansing Middle School site council, about a new "Challenge Day" program the school hopes to incorporate into its own "Be the Change" program.

Hollering said the school has already applied for the "Challenge Day" program, which brings in two people from a California-based group to work with about 300 students on character education.

"It's about making kids feel loved, safe and celebrated," Hollering said.

The cost to for the program is $12,000 and will include three days of lessons for the students addressing struggles many of them face in school. The two facilitators will work with a "Be the Change Team," made up of students, teachers and parents, to teach them ways they can make a positive change in their school's community. For more information about the program, visit www.challengeday.org.

¢ Accepted a gift from several Lansing High students who are part of the group that will travel to China in March. Cathy Smith, LHS art teacher, helped present a calendar to each board member that included pictures taken last year on the student's trip to China.

"We would like you to take (the calendar) to your home or office and put up as a reminder of the vision that Lansing schools have for our students," she said of her goal to bring a global awareness to the students.

¢ Heard a report from Tony Kramer of Kramer & Associates CPAs L.L.C about the results of an audit of the school district. Kramer reported that the school district received the highest rating, meaning that all financial records were "fairly stated."

¢ Received a construction phase report for the new elementary school and high school auditorium. At the elementary school, bleachers have been installed, deep cleaning has begun, ceramic tiles have been installed in all areas, vinyl tiles have been installed in all areas except cafeteria, all plumbing fixtures are installed and all tissue, paper towel and soap dispensers have been installed.

At the high school auditorium all areas are painted except inside the auditorium, the ceiling grids have been installed in all areas except the vestibule, the sprinkler system has been installed, all electrical wiring has been installed and the sound system wiring has been installed.

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