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To begin the November 20 meeting Ted Hanson, NCSD’s Special Services Director, spoke about the behavior training and support issue. A behavioral issue has been identified within the District, particularly within kindergarten and 1st grade. Conversations around these topics led Hanson to learn that there hasn’t been a district-wide training to equip staff members to deal with that type of behavior in more than 10 years. Hanson has identified a new program, a framework for behavioral support, and has been working with that trainer to schedule a time for district-wide training. Hanson reported that the trainer (Diana Browning Wright) will come in May to visit the District, then again in August to train about 100 employees (including ESPs) during a 2-day workshop. Over the following year the trainer would come an additional six times for follow-ups. Wright has also been utilized in Cheyenne and Douglas. Hanson will provide a formal proposal (including Wright’s training) to Cabinet to address these behavioral issues during the week of December 15. The question was asked about training for staff that isn’t within the Special Services framework, and Hanson said the hope is that that type of training becomes available in the near future, either from Wright or a different resource.
Next, Angela Hensley gave background information about the Developmental Kindergarten program (now called Classic Kindergarten). Hensley said a year ago a group came together to begin discussions about a Classic Kindergarten program. A Classic Kindergarten program is for kids who aren’t prepared for the rigor of traditional kindergarten. The program focuses on learning by playing and other developmental teaching methods. A group made two separate visits to Gillette and Sheridan to observe Classic Kindergarten systems that are present in those districts. Location of the program and screening of potential students are still areas that are being discussed. The committee will meet again in December, with a deadline in January to submit a proposal to Cabinet. The item lies in the HR Division, but could impact C&I during implementation. After Cabinet approval, the group hopes to develop a timeline to establish screenings, informational meetings, and prepare a site. Hanson explained the Foundations program to the group as well, as a way to differentiate it from the Classic Kindergarten program. Foundations is a K-2, therapy-based program for students who are identified with behavioral issues.
Next, NCSD’s Activities/Athletics Director Terry Hooker updated the group about his Co-Curricular ad-hoc group that met on November 19 about three topics: Cut Policy, Articulation, and Undue Influence in the arena of Athletics and Activities. Hooker said these three areas needed to be reviewed and updated. The group was tasked with defining undue influence and compiled the following draft: The use of influence (pressure) by any person or persons in an attempt to alter anyone’s selection of a school for programmatic gain. Sheila McHattie pointed out that the premise of undue influence applies across other District arenas, including choices of academies. Hooker’s ad-hoc group also drafted an undue influence policy in draft form. Vertical articulation is an element of this as well – which is the practice of teaching similar skills across middle grade levels across the District (not KW- or NC-specific.) Walt Wilcox, NCSD’s Associate Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, said some of the most productive work from the ad-hoc meeting came when discussions centered on what can be done or not done in the influence area.
Hooker said the discussion about the cut policy centered on communication beginning at the 6th grade level, in an effort to identify other strengths students may have. Aaron Wilson, Paradise Valley Elementary’s principal, said he thinks it’s important to not necessarily steer a student away from a sport after being cut, but provide feedback on skills that can be improved to make the team next time. Wilson also mentioned the need for a focus on life-long activities/sports.
Next, the group heard from employee representation groups.
NCEA: Concern within the association about alignment within new standards-based education, and past work that has been done. Also, need to make sure communication is aligned as well.
NCASE: No issues.
NCAESS: No issues.
During association comments, the topic of choosing an academy was raised, and the process that will take place in regards to sharing information about the academies to 8th graders. There was discussion about academy coaches and counselors sharing that information with middle-schoolers.
The next C&I Stakeholder Meeting is scheduled for December 4.