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R-2 School Board approves professional development plan as school year begins

The Jackson R-2 School Board passed the comprehensive professional development plan for the District, and looked at this years preliminary enrollment numbers at its Aug. 8 meeting.

The plan was put together by 34 members of the professional development team and is about 90 pages long. The plan outlines the goals and schedules for teachers at each school during every one of this year’s professional development days.

Orchard Drive Elementary School Principal Shanna Wilson, Middle School Principal Janelle Pope, Junior High School Principal Cory Crosnoe and Senior High School Principal Seth Harrell spoke about the plan.

Each said the implementation of technology in the classroom was a major focus this year. Through the One 4 One initiative, grades 8-12 receive Chromebooks this year, with younger students getting them over the next two years.
Crosnoe spoke about giving out over 700 Chrome-books in two days, and how the student’s excitement will be something that stays with him for the rest of his life.

“A girl came up and she was all excited,” Crosnoe said. “She couldn’t believe that we were actually giving her a Chromebook. She thought she was going to keep it in the classroom. … Once she figured out that she was going to be able to keep it, she immediately whispered, ‘I’m about to pee in my pants.’ So I said, ‘Why don’t you go that way and we’ll get you signed in in a little bit.’ I just want to thank you for taking that step and getting our kids the tools that they need.”

As the Chromebooks are issued to students in the upper levels, existing technology is being moved to the lower levels. Because of this, the elementary and middle schools will have a two-for-one ratio of students per computer device.

All four principals said a major professional development goal is for teachers to understand the difference between substituting the new technology into plans they already use and actually utilizing technology to expand learning.

“Our expectation is not to come into the classroom and see them using technology every single day, “ Harrell said. “We just want them to feel comfortable with it, know when to use it and be effective when they do it.”

Another major goal for this year’s professional development is collaboration between the schools. Vertical teams with sixth-12th grade teachers are planned throughout the year to make sure the curriculums build upon each other successfully.

With many of the grades shifting schools next year, letting teachers who will work close with each other next year collaborate and form relationships is a priority for the district.

“We don’t want to lose track of our seniors, the class of 2018, and the students we have now, but we also need to really use this year to be thinking ahead,” Harrel said. “So we’re making smart decisions, and it’s going to be a collaborative process.”

Dr. Beth Emmendorfer, assistant superintendent of administrative and student services, also went over the preliminary enrollment numbers for the Board. She said the official numbers aren’t totaled until Sept. 1.

The incoming kindergarten class is consistent with last year’s numbers, and Emmendorfer explained that their current trend is that kindergarten through second grade class sizes stay lower but in third through fifth grade, the District starts to pick up more students and see growth in class sizes.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has guidelines for the maximum number of students that should be in a class without an additional aide, and the district uses those to decide where to add aides.

Emmendorfer said they have already added an aide to assist the second grade in East Elementary School, and they are watching fifth grade at East and third grade across the district.

“Strong enrollment continues,” Emmendorfer said. “The hard part is when you see lower class sizes at a different building and you wish you could even it out. We quite often will offer to parents, ‘would you be interested in having your child go to South with a smaller class,’ but with transportation needs and child care in those different areas, there are very few parents who are able to do that.”

Board Member Greg Farrow asked if only adding aides when suggested by DESE is the best choice for the district. Emmendorfer said it is part of the strategic plan to bring down class sizes overall.

The main problem currently is running out of classrooms in the schools where class sizes are the highest. Superintendent Dr. John Link said moving 5th graders out of elementary schools will free up the needed classrooms.
Link also mentioned that they will need to look at redistricting, especially for West Lane, South and East to level out class sizes. A difficulty he explained is that it is hard to anticipate where new subdivisions will be added.

“I think once we get to next year, we know we have to add staff,” Link said. “So next year we go from that maximum number to closer to that desirable number.”

The eventual goal is to have each class be between 20-24 students.

In other business:

• Madelyn Weber and Faith Dynneson were recognized for taking part in the Missouri Scholar Academy in June. 330 students from across the state met for three weeks on the University of Missouri campus. Both Webber and Dyn-neson told the Board about their experiences and the classes they took part in as part of the academy. Web-ber’s studies focused on the human brain and comic-book literature, while Dynneson studied Japanese culture and censored poetry. Waller said they inspired the board and thanked them for representing the school on a state level.

• The board also recognized 64 choir students for participating in the Missouri Choral Directors Association honor choirs. These students, who ranged from 4th to 10th grade, performed in Jefferson City this July. They started preparing for the honor choirs as early as February and went through an audition process before being selected for the choirs. Christy Shinn, the JHS vocal department chair, made sure to also acknowledge Hunter Gray and Tyke Schubert, who both were six-year members of the MCDA honor choir. There was only four students state-wide who had that distinction this year.

• Brockmiller Construction in Farmington was awarded a bid for $913,900 for steel work for the new freshman center at JHS. There was one other bid from Brattner Steel Company in Cape Girardeau for just over $1.2 million.
Board Member Sara Varner asked why there was a huge discrepancy between the two, which Deckerd said came down to which suppliers they each were working with. He also said the reduced time frame for the project may have also been a factor.

• Fronabarger Concreters from Oak Ridge received a bid just over $41,000 for concrete work around the

 

football field visitor
bleachers. This is part of a process to make the visitor bleachers
ADA-accessible.
Fronabarger will pour 400 linear feet of concrete to create a pathway in front of the bleachers from the Southwest concession stand to the Northeast concession stand. Deckerd said this work will start immediately, and Heartland Seating will late install new ramps before the Jackson home game against Cape Central.

• Canedy Sign & Graphics in Cape Girardeau was awarded a bid of $24,500 for a digital sign at South Elementary. There were two other bids from Main Street Signs, for $32,036, and Coast to Coast Signs, for $24,574. Board Member Greg Farrow asked, since two of the bids were similar, if there were any differences in service. Deckerd said all three companies had worked successfully with the district before and there would not be any significant differences between them.

• The board set its tax rate hearing for 6 p.m. on Aug. 22.

• The board approved the bus routes for the 2017-2018 school year. Deckerd said there are 63 total routes

• The board readopted Board Policy BBFA, a required policy from the Missouri Ethics Commission on board member conflicts of interest and financial disclosures.

• Next meeting: The Jackson R-2 Board of Education meets regularly for open session at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at 614 E. Adams, Jackson. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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