School board to take a look at diversity, activities and bullies
FRISCO – Continuing its format of alternating business meetings, the Summit School Board will spend a worksession delving into one ongoing issue and two relatively new ones.
Following a closed executive session on real estate negotiations, approval of consent agenda business items and board comments, board members will discuss growing student diversity, the relationship between activities and achievement and a bully-proofing program.
“We’re trying to create an opportunity for the board to talk through, think through, ask questions and engage in conversations about issues,” Superintendent Wes Smith said of the worksession format adopted this summer. “Rather than sit in a deliberative setting, they’ll be able to really get a feel for the issues by talking with staff.”
Dillon Valley Elementary School Principal Gayle Jones and district English as a Second Language (ESL) coordinator Sarah Cox will provide new student population data to stimulate discussion on diversity. The district’s English-learning population fluctuates in a single school year and varies school to school, but ESL students make up 10-15 percent of the students.
Headlines and debates spurred by the anti-bilingual education Amendment 31, which the state will vote on next month, have brought a lot of attention to diversity issues, Smith said. Earlier this month, the Summit School Board unanimously adopted a resolution “emphatically” opposing the amendment because, board members said, it limits local control of education policy and puts teachers at unnecessary punitive risk.
At the same meeting, the school board approved the final budget for the school year, which included an extra $70,000 for the ESL program at the request of board members.
A group of coaches, administrators and athletic and activities directors will serve as a panel with which board members will discuss the district’s extracurricular programs. The talk will cover what sports schools offer, how many students participate and any relationship between student involvement in activities and achievement.
Many parents hold the mistaken notion that involvement in activities or sports detracts from school success, Smith said, but “research shows the exact opposite.” Smith said participation in activities is a better predictor of later success than grades.
“I can say as a parent, as well as an educator, that a lot of kids, when not involved, don’t do as well as when they’re active,” Smith said. “It goes back to use of time. When there’s lots of time, it’s easier to procrastinate. As the saying goes, if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.”
Smith also stressed that schools’ activities aren’t designed to “keep kids out of trouble.” He sees that rationale as negative, he said, and wants the district to focus on activities as emphasizing positive skills, or asset-building.
“We haven’t had that kind of conversation in years,” Smith said. “We’ve discussed specific programs in bits and pieces but haven’t looked at the overall philosophy of the district and haven’t shared a lot of information.”
Last year, the state Legislature selected Summit County’s six elementary schools as part of 11 designated for a pilot study of a bully-proofing program. The state requires all schools to adopt a similar curriculum, but, through the pilot program, Summit’s schools receive extra state support and collect data on the program. School board members will discuss with counselors how the program is being carried out in schools and if it is effective.
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or email@example.com.
Summit School Board
? What: Regular meeting and worksession
? When: 5:30 p.m. tonight
? Where: Central administration, 150 School Road, Frisco
Info: (970) 668-3011
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