School Board Considering Third Party Curriculum Review

By Eduardo Zamarripa, CRI Weekly News

Oskaloosa, Iowa – On Tuesday night, the Oskaloosa School Board approved having the Iowa Association of School Boards give a presentation on how it conducts comprehensive school assessments. The assessment would evaluate the district’s curriculum.

The motion passed on a four-to-two vote, with Vice President Tom Richardson and Charlie Comfort voting “no.” School board member Shuan Moyer did not attend the meeting. The motion simply approves a presentation from the IASB at the next board meeting on Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. A representative from the IASB is expected to ‘Skype-in’ and answer questions from the board. After the presentation, the board will decide if it wants to conduct the assessment.

President Carl Drost said this assessment is not intended to pick on, or criticize, the current curriculum, but rather to evaluate how the district can improve. Superintendent Russ Reiter discussed what a comprehensive school assessment means.

“What it specifically does is, assesses the districts against characteristics of high-performing schools. So they’ll take a look at schools across the state of Iowa, those that are scoring extremely well, what do those schools do? How do we fit into that?” Reiter said.

The study would cost approximately $9,000 depending on what assessments the board wants the IASB to conduct.

In other agenda items, the board unanimously approved the 2014-15 school calendar. The biggest changes are approving an “innovative” calendar, and making changes to the school’s spring break.

An innovative calendar means the school now has a minimum requirement of 1,080 hours for classes on a calendar year, instead of a minimum requirement of 180 days per school year. The 2013-14 school calendar has two four-day weekends (one in March, one in April) instead of a week-long spring break. Now, every two years the school district will have a week-long spring break. Reiter said a group of high school students made a strong case of why the district should make the spring break change.

The board also received a presentation by the Professional Learning Community (PLC), and presented Micah Leaverton’s family with a $5,031.61 check on behalf of the ‘Storybook Players.’ Leaverton is a former CRI employee and Storybook Player. He was in a motorcycle accident last summer that left him paralyzed.

Leaverton’s mom, Melanie, said Leaverton is currently working on an internship in Florida. She says Leaverton is helping launch a church in Orlando.

The board also unanimously approved the comprehensive school improvement goals (CSIP) for 2014-19. Those were presented by the district’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction Mary Cooksley as follows:

  • All students will achieve at high levels in reading, math, and science to be successful citizens
  • All students will utilize technology to be successful citizens
  • All students will choose healthy lifestyles and feel safe, supported, and connected to school
  • Develop, promote, and sustain partnerships among students, parents, staff, and community

In addition to that, the board unanimously approved the resignation of six individuals after they took the district’s offer for early retirement:

  • Cyndy Gray
  • Claudia Martin
  • Diane Meredith
  • Michael Striegel
  • Thomas Tresnak
  • Diane Vermeer

The next board meeting is on Jan. 27 at 7 p.m.

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