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New information pieces reviewed by academy committee

The purpose of the Natrona County School District’s Academy Based Learning Standing Committee, as outlined by NCSD Cabinet, is: “To collaboratively study academy-based learning, make recommendations to the Superintendent/Cabinet and formulate related communications. Currently focused on high schools with middle school and elementary schools to follow.”
The District defines academy-based learning as an instruction model that “provides a relevant and captivating education for all NCSD students, ensuring they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to compete successfully in a global economy. Academy learning engages our students, teachers, parents, community, industry, and higher education in authentic (real-life) and innovative learning environments. This provides students opportunities to become independent lifelong learners, digitally literate, inventive thinkers, effective communicators, highly productive, and healthy stewards. Academy learning gives them a seamless preparation from high school graduation into college and a career.”

The committee met on December 11 and opened with employee association comments. NCASE rep Valerie Braughton, CY Middle School’s principal, said she presented the academies enrollment insert at the most recent middle-level meeting and received many questions. The second draft was received today and should address many of those concerns.

NCEA rep Patti Kimble passed along a message from Doreen McGlade that the communications coming out of the most recent meetings have helped other NCEA members understand the academy-based system. Also, Jennifer Leimback received a question about how the academy-based system will impact those students who are characterized as Gifted & Talented. There were no SEIO or NCAESS representatives at the meeting.

Next, Mark Mathern, Associate Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction reported from Cabinet. Mathern said that Superintendent Steve Hopkins has encouraged the C&I Division to continue to communicate information out about the academies. Mathern also said the Pathways Framing Document is being viewed by most of the high school teachers, which has helped to ease many concerns. Those teachers will continue to receive information during the week of Dec. 16 when forums, led by the high school principals, will be held at each high school.

Next, Kelly Hornby, the executive director of Curriculum & Instruction referenced the Pathways Framing Document (online version here), which includes a timeline for deployment, a frequently asked questions list, and a key terms section. First, Hornby asked the group to review the key terms section to see if any updates are needed. Suggestions were made and will be updated in the framing document – which will remain a dynamic document as new information is added.

Chad Sharpe, assistant principal at Natrona County High School, reported on the impact the draft common schedule might have on the Teacher Employment Document (TED). The discussion centered on instructional time and professional time for teachers under the draft schedule and how it meets state statutes and requirements. Sharpe will work to add in a staggered second lunch to the current draft schedule.

Next, the discussion turned to whether or not the district’s transportation system can handle the bell schedule as it stands now. Syd Webb, NCSD’s Transportation Director, gave an overview of the busing system he oversees and the impacts a revised bell schedule would have on the transportation system. Webb proposed using elementary schools as a hub of sorts to streamline the routes his buses take. Webb presented two options that would serve elementary, middle school, and high school students. Option 1 utilizes the hub system but the high schools would have their own bus system, so the elementaries would not have to be dependent on the timing of the secondary system’s buses. Option 2 calls for the middle schools and high schools to have a shared busing system. In the plan the middle schools would start later. In developing these options Webb had several goals, including: decreased number of stops, eliminate late drop-offs, eliminate the extremely early drop-offs, eliminate the dependency of the elementary timeliness on the secondary levels, and increase the efficiency of routes. With an eye toward the academy-based system and the CAPS facility, Webb said both of his options would work for that presented 8:15 a.m. start time. Each option Webb presented does require additional buses (anywhere between 10-12), which would require additional drivers as well. After discussion, it was recommended that Option 2 be the option that receives additional detail, and Option 1 would be scrapped. Many questions still remain regarding Option 2 – including the possibility of the need to purchase new buses/hire drivers. Webb will work to fine tune the option and answer many of the concerns that were raised.

Next, Hornby turned the committee’s attention to a review of the academy enrollment guide insert. He urged committee members to review the document and give their first impressions. Kimble, an academy coach, noted that the content of the packet is geared toward parents, not necessarily students. The committee split up into groups and gave their feedback on the document. Some groups suggested shortening the document; others liked the high level of detail. Other suggestions were made that involved word changes or the intention of certain paragraphs. The suggested revisions were noted and will be incorporated into the next version of the insert.

The next Academy-based Learning Standing Committee meeting is on Wednesday, January 8.

Members in Attendance
NCASE: Brad Diller, Chad Sharpe, Chris Bolender, Chris Tobin, Danna Anderson, Dean Kelly, Kathy Neely, Scott Winter, Valerie Braughton, Nicole Rapp, Ron Estes, Kent Thompson
NCEA: Patti Kimble, Erica Peterson, Jennifer Leimback
Counselors: Armeda Winter, Amanda Annis
C&I Division: Mark Mathern, Kelly Hornby, Bryan Aivazian, Nancy Johnson
Transportation: Syd Webb 
Communications: Allen Bruggman
Recorder: Sarah Prosinski



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This entry was posted on December 12, 2013 by in In Focus.

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