USD 383 officials defend Common Core

By Bryan Richardson

USD 383 officials voiced their support for Common Core standards during an intergovernmental luncheon Monday.

The Common Core standards, which currently cover math and English, are the creation of a coalition of governors and state school officials. They have been adopted fully by 45 states.

Associate Supt. Bob Seymour showed luncheon participants a video produced by the Kansas Learning First Alliance, a coalition of educational organizations.

The video is designed as a response to criticism that the standards represent a loss of local control. The state’s Republican leadership publicly opposed the standards last week, and the legislature has attempted to strip funding for them in the past.

“There’s no question that Common Core standards are controversial,” Seymour said. “But,” he contended, “they do raise the bar.”

Board member Marcia Rozell defended the standards, saying they aren’t coming from the federal government and they are just guidelines. “They won’t take away anything that’s a regional aspect,” she said.

Board member Aaron Estabrook said a clear set of national standards makes sense considering the military population in the area. He said his daughter had been affected by his own movement during military service. “Somebody shouldn’t have to repeat a curriculum over and over again,” he said.

This is the first year the standards are being used in the classroom. Kansas students will take a pilot test this year, but with testing for all states using the standards becoming official next school year.

Seymour was also asked about enrollment. Data released Friday showed that USD 383 enrollment remained relatively flat. The district built its budget on a 125-student increase.

Seymour said the district had more students leave from second through fourth grade than usual.  “It’s hard to explain,” he said, adding there had been no discussion yet concerning how the district might be affected financially. However, the district still has a second military count date in February, which providing a chance to make up ground. “We’ll have to monitor that and see what happens down the road,” Seymour said.

Seymour discussed the district’s recent land purchase in Pottawatomie County where there’s an “elementary-sized group of students” attending USD 383. He said the district needed at least 20 acres for an elementary school. The district ending up purchasing approximately 31 acres.

Seymour said the land could be put to use in five to 10 years. “Once they build houses, you can’t go out and clear them to build a school,” he said. “You have to plan ahead even if it’s not the most perfect spot for a school.”

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