School awarded 'Merit' status
The Prairie Schools received their accreditation reports recently and the Prairie Elementary School was approved with Merit Status according to principal Rene’ Forsmann, who reported at the February school board meeting Wednesday, Feb. 18.
Prairie Middle School and Prairie High School were both given approved status.
A proposed school calendar for the 2004-05 school year was presented to the board. The proposed calendar is reviewed below. The board is seeking input from the teachers, principals and the public before adopting the calendar.
The school safety inspection report was reviewed with only minor violations noted that the district either has or will address soon. The only issue they had a problem with was requiring a center handrail on the stairway to the balcony in the high school gym. It was felt the handrail would cause more safety problems than it would address. The concern was children sliding down it plus the fact that the wrestling mats are moved up and down those stairs regularly which would necessitate the rail be removable.
Brit Groom reported on the school board trustee “Day on the Hill” attending by he and John Nida along with superintendent Stan Kress.
Groom said that as far as the legislature was concerned everything was a “done deal” in the education budget. He said he got the feeling education was not a priority. Legislators were more worried about gay marriages and wolves. He also said he feels there’s a movement building to abolish school districts and make all the state’s public schools answerable to the state superintendent and board of education. For one thing this would make the lawsuit go away as it would eliminate the litigants. Kress said there actually has been a bill introduced to do so but he doesn’t think it has enough support at this time.
In his administrative report, Kress said that a possible get-together to resolve the lawsuit appears like it’s not going to happen. He also reported that the recommended funding given to education is actually a decrease of about 1% despite the legislative leadership and the governor trying to make it look like a 3% increase. There’s no replacement for the $13 million reduction in endowment funds which isn’t taken into account in their “3% increase.”
Also $2 million in funds from the lottery proceeds that would have gone to districts is going to be used to pay for state assistance for bond interest.
There is also a legislated increase in starting teacher salary but this will be at the expense of salary and benefit funds for other teachers as there were no additional funds appropriated to cover this increase, just a shuffling of funds the districts would have already received.
The recommendations would also leave schools short by $1.6 million of full property tax replacement, as mandated with the cap enacted by the legislature in 2003. this would leave schools looking to make up those lost funds locally.
The above were the recommendations that came out of JFAC, the legislature’s joint house and senate finance committee. Kress said what usually comes out of that committee is passed through as law.
In principal reports it was reported that students have been given the winter ISAT (Idaho Standards Achievement Test). Although this isn’t required, the results help them find out where students need help before taking the Spring test which is required by the state.
Forsmann also reported that this year’s sophomore class will be the first that is required to pass the ISAT as a graduation requirement.
She also reported that Progress Reports go out the week of Feb. 23.
Her final note was that the Missoula Children’s Theatre will be here the week of March 1-5.
Dave Snodgrass reported that they now have art in the 5th and 6th grades and some of the students’ work is posted near his office.
He reported that junior high wrestling is winding down but that junior high volleyball is going strong. They have 18 7th grades and 13 8th graders playing volleyball.
Mike Bundy gave a handout to the board showing how much students are saving in college credit costs by taking college credit technology courses in high school. It amounted to over $21,000 worth of college credits for just the first semester of this year compared to about $10,000 for all of last year. Thanks to getting the certified nursing program established as a college credit course, Prairie was second only to Lewiston for the first semester in college credits awarded.
The board adjourned to an executive session at 9:15 p.m.
The next regular meeting will be Monday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Elementary School.
Frei resigns from school board
After an executive session at the school board meeting last Wednesday, Feb. 18, Steve Frei turned in his resignation from the school board.
He has moved to Lewiston and since he no longer resides in the district, he had to give up his post.
The school board is seeking applicants, who reside in zone #5, to fill the position until the election in May.
Proposed 2004-05 school calendar
The school board was given a proposed school calendar for the 2004-05 school year at their board meeting last week. Below is a summary:
August—26-New teachers report; 27-30-teacher in-service; 31-School starts
September—6-no school, Labor Day; 15-Early out, staff development day.
October—7-8-Teacher institute days, no school; 20-Early out, staff development day; 29-end of first quarter, regular school day.
November—1-Early out, staff development day; 4-Early out, parent-teacher conference; 24-Early out for Thanksgiving break; 25-26-Thanksgiving break.
December—15-Early out, staff development day; 22-Early out for Christmas break; 23-Jan. 2-Christmas break.
January—3-School resumes; 17-No School, Martin Luther King Day; 21-End of First Semester, regular school day; 24-Early out, staff development day.
February—16-Early out, staff development day; 21-No School, President’s Day.
March—16-Early out, staff development day; 25-End of Third Quarter, Early out; 28-April 1-Spring Break, no school.
April—4-Early out, staff development day; 7-Early out, parent-teacher conferences; 8-Early out, parent-teacher conferences; 20-Early out, staff development day.
May—18- Early out, staff development day; 27-High School Graduation; 30-No School, Memorial Day
June—3-Last day of school, early out.
All early outs are at 1:45 p.m.