October 7, 2014

Part-time positions added to address student needs

Three part-time paraprofessional positions were approved to respond to increased student needs at Marcy Elementary School and Willow Springs Learning Center. At Marcy, additional special education students enrolled since summer and the school’s staffing level was not sufficient to meet their Individual Education Plans. Two paraprofessionals – one 70 percent and the other half-time – will provide 48 additional hours each week to provide special education services to students. Willow Springs will hire a paraprofessional for 15 hours each week to support students whose medical and behavior plans requires more assistance than expected at the beginning of the school year.

Strategic planning in second year of new process

The Hamilton School District is entering its second year of using a more nimble strategic planning process. The Hamilton School Board approved seven new or revised tactical plans that will be the priorities for the 2014-15 school year.
Human Resources and Organizational Development Director John Roubik provided an update on the planning process. For more than 20 years, the district used a three to five-year strategic planning process. As the pace of change increased, the planning process did not meet the needs of the district. Last year the School Board adjusted the process to include quarterly, rather than annual, progress updates. Instead of establishing 3-5 year strategies, tactical plans will change each year. For 2014-15, the tactical plans will focus on:

  • Personalized-differentiated instructional practices;
  • Response to Intervention (RtI) readiness;
  • A student information system to manage student data and inform instructional practice;
  • Athletic classroom-training-practice space to support fitness education, athletics and activities;
  • Effective two-way communication practices to promote understanding, support and involvement of families, community and staff in strategic priorities;
  • Professional development to engage and empower students, differentiate instruction and ensure continuous progress to promote increased achievement; and
  • Training to implement the Educator Effectiveness Model.

ERE update given

Instructional Services Supervisor Katherine Little, Ph. D., provided a status report on Early Reading Empowerment (ERE), the district’s intervention program designed to meet needs of children who experience difficulty as they learn to read. Little explained that teachers assess their students at the beginning of the school year to identify those who need reading support. Instructional teams meet to match student needs with an appropriate intervention. First grade students identified for an ERE intervention meet with an ERE-trained teacher for individual or small group instruction four days a week. ERE is also part of the invitational summer school program and 47 students worked with eight ERE-trained teachers this summer.

Curriculum alignment, articulation support seamless education

Little gave an update on K-12 curriculum alignment and articulation activities that are key to ensure that curriculum and instruction are sequenced across grades so that learning can progress in a seamless manner as students move from grade to grade and course to course. This is done through curriculum and related professional development, vertical teaming, Response to Intervention, teacher collaboration time and the curriculum revision process. For 2014-15, music, information and technology literacy, world languages and elementary writing are on the curriculum revision schedule.

District employs various RtI activities

Human Resources and Organizational Development Director John Roubik updated the School Board on interventions for students who are not reaching proficiency on standardized assessments. He explained the many Response to Intervention (RtI) initiatives that have been addressed during the year. He described the systematic process school staff members deploy to improve performance of students who do not reach proficiency on standardized assessment.

Interventions are classified as Tier 1, 2 and 3. Tier 1 interventions are largely delivered by classroom teachers as part of regular instruction. Tier 2, for approximately 5-20 percent of students, is designed for students who fail to attain benchmarks despite getting differentiated instruction in a Tier 1 setting. For about 3-5 percent of students who show inadequate progress with Tier 2 interventions, Tier 3 provides intensification or different, more specialized approaches.
In contrast to Tier 1 interventions, Tier 2 and 3 interventions typically are not implemented in the regular classroom. Tier 2 interventions commonly occur in small groups. Tier 3 involves even smaller teacher-student ratios and may involve collaboration with other agencies or professional staff.

Board recognizes Ruud

RuudSchBrdRecognition

School Board members recognized Business Services Assistant Superintendent Bryan Ruud for effectively managing district resources in difficult financial times. Describing his key accomplishments, Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D, recognized Ruud for outstanding management of costs related to health care, retirement, energy, workers’ compensation, natural gas procurement and district debt. His work has resulted in savings that support the district’s educational program and facilities needs.

Maple Avenue reports on site plan

Maple Avenue Elementary School Principal Kristin Koeper-Hamblin reported on her school’s site planning process. Like last year, all four of the district’s elementary schools gathered Aug. 15 to share updates on their current plan, new data and ideas to design their own unique plan. Elementary staff from throughout the district reviewed the district’s new tactical plan and then looked at their own building data to craft site plans for the rest of the year.

Maple Avenue’s tactics for the new year indicate that staff will:

  • implement RtI practices with fidelity to address the differentiated learning needs of all learners; and
  • research and implement strategies to close the achievement gap in literacy.

Koeper-Hamblin said her school was honored to be recognized by the Department of Instruction as a high progress school and thanked the board for resources that made the school’s success possible.

Personnel news

In personnel business, the School Board:

  • accepted resignation of Hamilton health room paraprofessional Stacie Lee Clark, effective Oct. 17; and
  • appointed Ruby Westmoreland-Pate and Crystal Klein as Marcy special services paraprofessionals and Lori Konshak as Willow Springs special services paraprofessional.