April 23, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 95

Ironwood school board ponders policies

IRONWOOD — The Ironwood Area School Board of Education discussed adjusting policies for the school district Monday.

Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe
SUPERINTENDENT TIM Kolesar points to the enrollment report during an Ironwood Area School Board of Education meeting Monday.

The board reviewed and discussed seven NEOLA of Michigan policies relating to a variety of topics, with six being approved.

The one policy that didn’t pass was on recommendation of superintendent Tim Kolesar, in relation to the number of hours each grade level would be required to have on health education.

According to Kolesar, the district would have to provide a minimum of 50 hours of instruction, something he called “difficult to do.”

“The state pushing core curriculum, I have a problem with 50 hours,” Kolesar said. “I ask that we omit this at this time.”

Kolesar also said the concern was spreading the hours over each grade level.

“Some of our grade levels are over 50 hours, but not every grade is, and it would be difficult to do,” Kolesar said.

Other policies passed discussed online or blended learning, student assessments, graduation requirements, staff use of personal communication devices, a post-secondary dual enrollment option program and the number of minutes required per week for physical education.

Curriculum

Board member Brenda Agee updated the board on discussions the curriculum committee has had about kindergarten screenings and tutoring programs.

Possible kindergarten screenings have been discussed to either take place in the summer or fall, with the teachers deciding which screening process they would like to use.

According to elementary principal Zach Strickler, the screenings don’t hinder a student’s chances of getting into kindergarten.

“All students are accepted into kindergarten, but the screenings help manipulate where students will be placed in groups and and help the teachers understand where each student is at,” Strickler said.

Agee said the curriculum committee is looking at different ways to help lower the number of failing students in middle and high school.

Kolesar presented a schedule of after-school tutoring programs.

“For us, this is to make better, smarter students,” Kolesar said.

Each of the students will be monitored at the end of each quarter and the goal is to have less than 30 students with failing grades by the end of the year.

Board president Steve Thomas played devil’s advocate, asking what happens if students don’t attend the tutoring sessions. Agee said parents are called and that makes the students and parents accountable for getting the grades up.

“The students have responsibility to be there, but if the parents get a phone call, at least in my opinion, it helps them see that they are also accountable for getting the student there,” Agee said.

Food service director Mary Hampston said she has been looking into the possibility of having breakfast served in the tutoring rooms before school, and is applying for a grant to have a food cart in the hallway, allowing kids to grab breakfast before heading to class or to tutoring sessions.

“Maybe that might help them get to their tutoring sessions, if they know that breakfast is going to be there,” Hampston said.

Breakfast is free for all students.

Other matters

The board accepted the retirement of fifth grade teacher Jean Flateau and resignation of physical education teacher Vincent Church.

Middle-high school principal Michelle Kanipes updated the board about a new course for staff members and coaches, to teach them signs of concussions.

According to Kanipes, students who sustain a concussion will not be allowed to play until they have a note from a doctor, medically clearing them.

The course stems from a push from the Michigan High School Athletic Association to help curb concussion-based injuries in sports.