By now you have probably heard about various educational initiatives to enter the digital age. For the last few years the trend has been to provide each student with an internet-ready device particularly at the Middle and High School levels. These types of initiatives have shown improvements in student performance and can save costs in areas such as textbooks, paper. etc. There are obstacles to overcome in order to implement this type of learning environment. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has released an article called Optimizing Technology in the Classroom for 21st Century Teaching and Learning that talks about some of the challenges and solutions. It is very informative and available to you in the above link.
It has certainly been a challenging winter. Hopefully you have received the last morning call of the year from me. We are going to look at our options for making up Monday’s cancellation. I am confident that we can find a way to avoid coming back after Memorial Day. I will be making an announcement about that soon.
I wanted to give you a quick update on education funding in our state. You may not be aware that the state of Missouri has ranked rather low in education spending as compared to other states. Governor Nixon has come out with a bold proposal to fully fund our state’s education foundation formula in two years. The foundation formula is a rather complex equation that takes many things about a school district into account and then pays on a school’s average daily attendance (ADA). Basically, it is the mechanism for which state funds are dispersed that is designed to do it equitably. It is currently underfunded by our state government by over $600 million dollars. The governor has also vowed to veto any tax cut legislation that is proposed until public education in the state is fully funded. He has taken the stance that the best economic investment we can make is in the education of our children.
The Governor’s budget calls for a 278 million dollar increase to the foundation formula. Also, he has directed a 15% addition to transportation and added investment to early childhood. This would equal a grand total of a 365 million dollar total investment in K-12 education in our state. If this budget were to become reality our district would receive about a 4% increase to our revenues or approximately $500,000 in new money. That would be a timely revenue increase as we have some major investments to make in technology and capital project improvements.
The House Appropriations Committee has stated that the Governor’s state revenue numbers are too optimistic. Another challenge to the proposed budget is that there are also several state tax cut bills that have been introduced that would actually limit state revenues. I would encourage all of the parents of our school district to develop a solid understanding of the issues surrounding K-12 education in our state. You can read more about these issues at www.moparent.com.
Our board meeting for February began with my superintendent report. I reported that the district needs to begin a thoughtful conversation about technology and student achievement. I suggested that the board put together a “task force” to study this issue. We will be talking more about that at the March meeting. In the meantime, I intend to make my rounds to discuss technology with the district staff. I’d like to hear your thoughts.
The board will also be prioritizing our capital projects for the 14-15 year. We have a lot to do. I’m not sure we can afford to do it all so this exercise becomes necessary. The board also discussed adding the use of a sick day to staff for attendance at the funeral of a parent or sibling of a student. That policy will be further discussed in March as well.
The board heard a presentation from the high school social studies department. They shared work they are doing to help improve assessment scores in that area. The calendar was approved for the 2014-2015 school year and conference affiliation was discussed under new business. There had been some conversation in the Clarence Canon Conference about the size discrepancies among schools. It was discussed at the last conference meeting. After consideration the board did not make a motion to pursue anything other than staying in the Clarence Cannon Conference.
In executive session, the district accepted the retirement of Deanna Richman as Special Education Director/Curriculum Director and then the board offered two 550-hour contracts to Dawn Crocker (ECSE) and Deanna Richman (Special Education Director). Mike Tomkins was also hired for a bus driving position. Finally, the board established an Instructional Technology Specialist position to be hired for the 2014-2015 school year. The position will be posted this week.
Good luck to our winter post-season teams and competitors.
Get a CHS Lady Panthers Softball State Champs "Rings" apparel today! Regular T-Shirts are $12, long sleeve shirts are $16, sweatshirts are $18, and V-Neck T-Shirts are $14. Order forms are due by February 24th. The order form is here (PDF).
Shirts are $12.50. Proceeds from these T-Shirts will go to the Centralia Cancer Dodgers team. Orders are due February 28, 2014. The order form is here (PDF).