Oler, who worked with 4th and 5th grade students on Read 180, said although the program took a lot of cost and effort to get started, it was very much worth it because of the communication and real-world skills students built upon. ISTEP+ scores also showed improvements due to Read 180.
“Read 180 gave kids an ‘I can do this’ attitude,” she said. “Students knew they were expected to do better to meet their goals and move up a level.”
In addition, parents at all levels reported students who were excited about the program and who were reading at home as well as at school. Students at all levels showed tremendous gains according to Oler and Becker, with each grade level averaging at least a year’s increase—and some grades achieving over two years of improvement.
In addition to the Read 180 report, Superintendent Steve Darnell led a discussion regarding the SGCS Strategic Plan, which has been in the works since November thanks to a Strategic Planning Committee comprised of boardmembers, administrators, staff, students, parents, teachers, community members and local business/industry leaders. NEOLA Board Policy suggests that school corporations make a strategic plan to guide the District. In addition, strategic plans help Districts gain a competitive edge when applying for grants at the state and federal levels. Although the plan was set to encompass five years of goals, Darnell said the committee will revisit the plan on an annual basis to measure progress, identify new targets and set new goals.
The SGCS Strategic Plan targets five main goal areas: 1) Superior Education 2) Safe Environment 3) Fiscal Responsibility 4) Community Support and 5) Service Excellence.
Darnell said if the Board approves the Strategic Plan at the next Board meeting, the plan will drive the instruction and operation of the District.
“This is how we are measured as a District,” he said.
The Strategic Plan will be readily available to parents and will be communicated to community members and business leaders.
Rob Marr, a local leader of industry, described the plan as a working and living document that provides a starting point for the District.
CHS Principal Austin Couch said the process allowed the District to take the first step in recognizing where it was coming up short and to develop goals to make up for the shortcomings.
CES 2010-11 Assistant Principal (and current sixth-grade science teacher) Nicole Veit added that the committee was able to pool information regarding the needs, hopes and wants of several individuals, rather than the personal agendas of a few people.
School Board President Tanya Young expressed her approval of the plan and described it as a roadmap for future boardmembers to understand where the District is at and where it is going.
“As a District, this is the smartest thing we could’ve done,” Young said. “Once we decide this is the plan, the Board has to be accountable to keep it going.”
Darnell noted that the District may not meet all of the goals each year, but these goals will be rolled over to the following year.
“As long as we are moving forward,” Darnell said, “that’s the goal.”
In other Board news:
• The Board approved the resignation/retirement of SGCS School Nurse Judy Johnson as well as the hiring of Valerie Hardesty as High School English Teacher and Andrea Rodocker as Speech-Language Pathologist. April Kuehnert-MacDonald will transfer from sixth grade to first grade, as approved by the Board.
• New Era Show Choir Director Dan Hile brought a request for an out-of-state field trip to the Board. The trip, which is scheduled for March 22-28, 2011, is part of the FAME national show choir competition held at the Epcot Center in Orlando, Fla. Hile said he is confident that students will be able to raise the $1200 per member required for the trip through creative fundraising and help from interested community members. Darnell asked the Board to approve the trip with the understanding that New Era would make a trip such as this every four years rather than every year. The Board approved the trip with a vote of 4-1; Boardmember Rick Trump voted against the trip after voicing concerns regarding precedents since New Era traveled to Disney World last year for a similar competition, which would make two consecutive years of out-of-state competitions rather than a four-year rotation of the trip.
• As recommended by Technology Director Ehren Misner, the Board approved the purchase of 100 Dell desktop computers and monitors for the amount of $74,998. The computers are on a five-year replacement schedule as approved in the three-year technology plan.