It was a meeting of updates and a couple action items Monday for the Nevada School Board.
Approvals were made to this year’s line item budget, which shows revenues coming in over expenses by $188,568. It was mentioned that this extra money might be needed for increases in snow removal costs, if predictions being made about the upcoming winter hold true.
The board also approved a number of fundraising activities to take place in the district this school year. It was noted that this is the second year that the school’s auditors have requested such an approval to give them an overview of the district’s fundraising activities. Board members noted that the fundraisers all seemed to be things that have been done in the past.
Updates were made to the board on several things going on within the district. The board heard reports on Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) from Nancy Port, director of school improvement; on Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW) from teachers Maggie Davis and Meg Frideres; on the high school construction project from Dave Kroese, director of buildings, grounds and transportation, who also updated the board about the installation of security cameras.
The AYP report showed where Nevada students came in on testing, compared to where the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation would like them to fall at this point in time and compared to the district’s goals.
Port said reading and math targets were met in the high school, but were missed in the middle school. Elementary students did better in math and reading this past year, but are on the watch list for math.
Port explained that next year is when the NCLB legislation wanted 100 percent of children to be proficient in reading and math. She said that goal is unattainable for schools. Superintendent Steve Gray said he believes the point of the legislation was more about "shooting for the stars and getting the moon," than it was about expecting that it could be attained.
"In theory this (NCLB) sounded good on paper, but as a practical matter (it fell short)," said Board Vice President Mike Bates.
Another thing that Port said made it harder to meet goals this past year was that the tests given to assess students changed at the same time that the targets went up.
As far as the school district’s goals, a couple of those were met over the past year. One was increasing the percentage of students proficient in reading in sixth grade; the other was increasing the percentage of students proficient in third grade math.
The AIW initiative is now involving teachers at all levels of the Nevada School District. Davis, who attended more training on AIW this summer so that she could coach other teachers in AIW, said she is very excited about how AIW is helping her grow in her teaching. Frideres, who has been a leader in bringing AIW to Nevada, said she likes that AIW gives time for self-reflection and professionally helps her to work on her skills for dealing with all different types of people. She said it is planned to start setting up professional development for students through AIW.
Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW), as explained on The Center for AIW’s website, focuses academic instruction on student construction of knowledge, conceptual understanding and elaborated communication to answer questions resembling the complex intellectual challenges of work, civic participation and managing personal affairs in the contemporary world. In contrast, conventional schoolwork is dominated by reproduction of knowledge, covering vast amounts of information with only superficial understanding and students answering questions they rarely face outside the school.
Kroese told the board that they will be moving students and staff back into the band and vocal rooms as soon as possible, since those areas are basically completed. They would, however, not rush the process. "We want to do it in an organized manner, not just as fast as we can," he said.
Kroese also reported that work is moving along on the art, industrial technology and kitchen areas. Workers are starting to pour back the kitchen floors this week, he said. It was also noted that Dec. 6 is the target date for getting back into the high school kitchen. The district is utilizing Gates Hall for lunches until that time, and the use of that facility has been working out pretty good, according to High School Principal Justin Gross.
Kroese also indicated that the installation of more video cameras in the schools is taking place and should be completed by the end of September. The board was told that signage will also be put up indicating that video cameras are in use in the buildings and on the buses.
For those interested in seeing how the high school project is moving along, an open house is being planned for Sept. 27, from 5-7 p.m.