District to add positions

By Bryan Richardson

The USD 383 school board approved adding faculty and staff members during its meeting Wednesday.

The additional positions are expected to be needed due to the administration’s projection of an enrollment increase of 125 students for the 2013-14 school year.

The plan is to hire 10.2 full time equivalency positions. Full-time positions to be hired are four elementary regular education teachers, an elementary special education resource instructor, an elementary speech therapist, an elementary nurse, a middle school computer teacher, and an ESL teacher.

Based on the projections, the elementary regular education teacher increases needed are a third grade teacher at Marlatt, a first grade teacher at Bergman, a fifth grade teacher at Lee and a sixth grade teacher each at Northview, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

The projections also indicate that staffing reductions can include a sixth grade teacher at Bluemont and a first grade teacher at Marlatt.

With the growing schools, outgoing board member Walt Pesaresi took the opportunity to remind the incoming board members that a new elementary school is likely on the horizon. He said that’s likely despite the additional space provided by the $97.5 million bond issue.

“All of our buildings are 100 percent full,” Pesaresi said. “That means we’re going to have to start using mobile units. In a year or two if this continues, we’ve got to build a new school.”

Teachers and students will gain further access to iPads next school year after actions taken during the meeting.

The board approved the purchase of 300 iPads for teachers and support services personnel who don’t have the device.

The board also approved iPads for students in every school. The total order is 20 iPad carts, each cart having 20 iPads each, between 430 and 445 older generation iPads, 30 iPad minis, 11 MacBook computers and three MacBook Air computers.

Board members brought up an issue of equity during the discussion. Currently, Lee, Marlatt and Woodrow elementary schools and MHS East and West campuses don’t have iPads available for students.

After the evening’s actions, they will have iPads, but some board members expressed concern about Lee and Woodrow Wilson having 20 iPads while Northview Elementary has 180.

Carol Adams, executive director of teaching and learning, explained that the iPads are purchased with grant money, which restricts their movement to other schools.

The board also heard a report about the ways USD 383 is making safety a priority. Among the actions are every school in the district having completed a safety week, staff training and coordination with law enforcement.

This latest emphasis on safety can be traced to the $299,855 U.S. Department of Education Safe and Drug Free School’s Readiness and Emergency Management (REMS) grant received in 2010. That grant expires Aug. 31.

“We need to practice,” said Michele Jones, communications coordinator and REMS project director. “We need to maintain our relationships with our first responders. We need to talk with other school districts about what they do. That’s the type of commitment we need.”

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