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GC Board of Education hears mid-year updates from administrators

By Cara L. Dempski

GLENWOOD CITY — A trio of Glenwood City district administrators provided updates on their programming and strategic learning objectives after passing the halfway point for the school year.

Director of Athletics, Pupil Services and Special Education Nicole Brite kicked off the February 12 reports with an update on child development days, held February 2.

“It’s really a team effort, starting with Darla Magsam, who schedules all of the families and their times,” Brite said. “Erin Kern and Jennifer Wannemacher participate in a quick play group with the  kids where they look for different cognitive skills like: do they know their colors? Do they know their shapes? Are they able to listen to directions?”

The special education director also said the children are assessed for speech and language development, and nurse Jodi Main assesses children’s physical development. The district also has someone come in from St. Croix County to do weight, height, and BMI for all students.

According to Brite, 23 families signed up, and 21 attended. Of the group, there were only two “semi-referrals,” though she noted there were some parents concerned about things that are considered normal aspects of child development.

Overall, the families found the day helpful, and a survey indicated parents seemed to feel more confident in their child’s abilities and development than they were prior to the day.

Brite also explained her plan for completing parent surveys regarding special education services. The main purpose of the survey is to gauge parent engagement, and the district needs at least 10 percent participation. She plans to offer parents the survey during parent-teacher conferences to streamline the process.

Finally, Brite’s strategic learning objective this year concentrates on closing the gap between special education students and general education students. Whereas she looked mostly at statewide assessments for last year’s goal, this year she is looking more at formative testing done within the school.

One thing she has been doing is looking at how each student is doing, and what areas need improvement, then focusing on just those areas for each student.

Elementary principal Betsy Haltinner briefed the board on her strategic learning objective this year, which deviated from looking at student performance, and instead focused on working with staff to improve instructional practice.

Her goal involved using the “plan, teach, reflect” framework developed by the administrative team to engage staff in professional dialog and reflect on what they’re doing, and then using the framework to compare practices and see if teacher’s reflections change as they move through the year.

She started by surveying staff for their input on their reflection.

Haltinner wanted to know if her teachers are aware of their instructional reality, what the intent is of each teacher’s actions, what is the teacher’s ability to assess students’ understanding of the information, and then how does each teacher adjust based on that information.

When she surveyed staff, she found 90 percent thought of themselves as aware of their processes and how students are receiving information. They were also willing to seek help if they were having difficulty engaging students or finding ways to ensure everyone in class was understanding the information presented.

Haltinner also spoke about recent and upcoming Title I parent involvement activities. February 1 was “Bingo for Books,” where every child present left with an age-appropriate book. She estimated 150 people were present.

The next event will be “Muffins and Juice with Seuss,” scheduled for 7 a.m. March 2. Anyone willing to come read some Dr. Seuss will get some muffins and juice.

The annual pancake breakfast will also be held March 2, but the basket raffle will be held March 3, and the baskets will be given away after parent-teacher conferences.

Middle and high school principal Patrick Gretzlock reported the high school saw 98.6 percent attendance for January 17 finals, and 99 percent attendance for January 18 finals. He also noted the number of failing grades at semester were significantly lower than previous years.

“This is my page for sharing high school students that failed a semester. This is it,” Gretzlock said as he held up a piece of paper. “When I started, this was about four pages long.”

There were 14 high school students who failed a semester class, and a total of 28 classes were failed. When the process started, the district was seeing roughly 74 failing grades per semester. In the middle school, six students had failing grades.

During the meeting, the board also:

• Approved Deb Brite as a substitute custodian.

• Accepted the resignations of paraprofessional Carol McCarthy and elementary student counsel advisor Sandy Utphall.

• Heard updates from board members and administrators who attended the WASB delegate assembly and convention last month.

• Approved policies for both visitors to school/campus, and governmental agencies and student contact.

• Approved district allocation amounts for the Class of 1950, Russell Meyer, Topper Partnership Foundation and Dorothy Kuhn scholarships.