Year starting well for 258

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September 14, 2010 - 12:00 AM

HUMBOLDT — The USD 258 board of education heard good news Monday  as school principals Kay Bolt, elementary and middle, and Craig Smith, high school, reviewed results of 2009 state assessments and annual yearly progress reports.
All grade levels met objectives, with the exception of fourth grade math.
“We continue to do well,” Bolt said, noting teachers will soon look into what can be done to improve levels even more. “As you know, the standards keep going up,” she told the board.
At the high school level, Smith said, the onus is on staying steady after a 100 percent graduation rate in 2009.
Smith said his biggest task will be to prepare freshmen and sophomores so that when they do take the state tests as juniors, they maintain the standard of excellence the school has come to expect. One way to go about that is by emphasizing personal responsibility, he said.
“Effort is something you control,” he noted. “You have to give it your best effort every day.”
Smith said the school will “live by the PRIDE theory.” PRIDE stands for Personal Responsibility In Daily Excellence, a notion lifted from the Iola school system, he said.
In addition, he said, Humboldt is expanding the ZAP concept: Zeros Are not Permitted, to a daily basis. In the past, he said, students would be docked activities one day a week if they failed to turn in homework. Now, “You can get zapped every day,” Smith said.
Preliminary enrollment numbers are higher at both the high school and elementary schools, the principals said. Initial figures indicate approximately 257 K-8 students and 161 high school students enrolled for the 2010-11 school year. About a dozen high school students have moved from other districts, Smith said, including Iola, Chanute, Moran and Missouri.
High school seniors will have more opportunities for community involvement soon, Smith added. A developing program will see them cross the age barrier through performances at local senior centers, teaching the elderly how to use computer-based social networking sites and other such endeavors.
“Between 16 and 76 is a big gap,” Smith said, but the senior population of Humboldt “is obviously a big part of our community.” Smith said he hopes the added opportunities allow students to expand their resumes as well as learn real-life communication skills.
“That’s something you can’t get in the classroom,” he said.
Elementary and middle school teachers and staff are being trained in “multi-tier systems support,” Bolt said, which will lead to more collaborative efforts during in-services, she noted. “We’ll teach each other” best methods for problem solving and classroom approaches, she said.

NEW HIRES include Molly James as a kindergarten aide.
Helen Herrington was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board left when Steve Sizemore resigned recently for personal reasons.
Third through fifth grades are now at a one-student to one-laptop ratio. One remaining classroom needs to be upgraded to tech rich status.

HEALTH insurance costs at the ANW Special education cooperative saw a 25.89 percent increase since the 2009 school year, said board member Don Houser.
As a result, “We’re giving our employees the option to enroll in a health savings account” which would allow for lower premiums, albeit a higher deductible, he said.
“So now we have to reopen negotiations” with the teachers union for approval of the plan, he said.
After receiving no initial bids, an old van was sold by the co-op for $1,000, Houser said.
Superintendent K.B. Criss noted that roof leaks on the high school were repaired, with the technology building next in line for a fix.
A fire marshal inspection yielded a clean report, save for two extension cords, now removed, Criss noted.
The board approved looking into leveling out a drainage ditch abutting the high school parking lot which, due to erosion, has become a safety hazard.

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