USD 383 Board OKs policies

By Bryan Richardson

The USD 383 school board took action on various issues related to the next school year at its meeting Wednesday.

The topics included textbook adoption and purchase, staffing needs, student fees and textbook rental, school meal prices and contract renewals for teachers, administrators and superintendents.

All of those items were accepted unanimously with the exception of staffing needs, which was a discussion item.

Board members discussed taking the Math in Focus curriculum adopted for K-5 in recent years and extending it to the sixth grade.

The program teaches math at slower pace, focusing on mastery of concepts.

Board member Walt Pesaresi said five teachers told him that he should oppose adoption of the curriculum while only one said he should support it. “I didn’t seek this out,” he said. “I had people getting a hold of me. So it tells me everybody’s not on board.”

Board member Leah Fliter took Pesaresi’s comments as an overall positive for the adoption of sixth grade Math in Focus. “Out of 18 teachers, if you’re only getting feedback from six, that to me says the majority don’t have a problem with it,” she said.

Three elementary school principals in attendance — Kathy Stitt (Bluemont), Shelley Aistrup (Northview) and Larry Liotta (Amanda Arnold) — stated their and their school’s support for Math in Focus.

Lisa Heller, the National Education Association Manhattan-Ogden chapter president, said the concern she has been hearing from teachers is whether it is better to align sixth grade math with K-5 math or 7-12 math. The national Common Core Standards are replacing the current state standards for the 2014-15 math state assessments. Kansas is one of the pilot states for the Common Core Standards assessment in the 2013-14 school year.

Board member Darell Edie said not extending the math curriculum to sixth grade is moving backward.

In other matters related 2012-13 school year discussions, school lunches will be increased by five cents for the 2012-13 school year, which would generate approximately $16,000, according to estimates. Lunch would be $2.45 for elementary students, $2.60 for secondary students and $3.40 for adults.

The increase is due to federal mandates – the Health, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and the New Meal Pattern and Dietary Specifications, which take effect July 1.

The average school lunch charge is currently $2.475. Schools districts below $2.51 for the current school year need to raise prices because they are required to provide the same level of support for lunches served to paid students as they are for lunches served to student eligible for free lunches.

The new dietary plan will increase costs since the amount of fruits and vegetables serving amounts have increased.

Stephanie Smith, food service director, said it would be less than a $10 increase for a full-year of lunch.

Student fees and textbook rentals will increase in the following manner: $1 (three percent) for textbook rental fees, $1 (three percent) for student materials, $1 (20 percent) for the Manhattan High School West Campus student planner, $4 (15 percent) for MHS-W activity ticket and $21 (10 percent) for Driver’s Education fees.

USD 383 is anticipating an enrollment increase of 140 students for the 2012-13 school year. Based on that projection, hiring three elementary school teachers, one special education early childhood teacher and one special education autism teacher will be high priority.

Two additional elementary teachers, an elementary school nurse split between Lee and Woodrow Wilson, and an elementary principal’s assistant split between Marlatt and Lee are likely to be needed in August.

The board will continue 2012-13 school year discussions with a budget planning discussion during its Wednesday, May 2 meeting as well as the administration’s recommendation for staffing.

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