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Act requires no teachers' aids be left behind

General Editor
   June 4, 2003 — The No Child Left Behind Act is requiring several adjustments at the 509-J School District, as Special Education Coordinator Stan Pine reported at Monday night's board meeting.
   All teaching assistants will now be required to either have a two-year associate degree from college or pass district tests in math, writing, reading, and professional knowledge.
   The requirement goes into affect in 2006, so to prepare, district 509-J will be offering classes in those subject areas and practice tests over the next two years. Current teacher's assistants will be paid to attend the classes to bring their skills up to the required level. Pine said the estimated $36,000 cost would be paid through a federal grant.
   Following an update on Madras High School construction, Mike Marino got the nod to purchase a new sound system costing around $46,000 to use during activities in the gym, student commons, and cafeteria. He also recommended the lockers from Buff Annex be renovated and repainted at a cost of $12,870, and be moved to the enlarged MHS, since Buff will become an elementary school.
   During citizen comments, Madras Elementary P.E. teacher Mike McGinnis again told the board he felt strongly about the need for a full physical education program to provide healthy exercise, improve learning, and make school fun. He suggested it be compared with the need for all-day kindergarten.
   Madras Elementary first grade teacher Barbara McGinnis spoke, asking the board to make grade-level class sizes equitable throughout the district, and said it could be done without spending any extra money.
   This year first grade classrooms at Madras Elementary had 27 and 28 children, she said, noting, "That was just bizarre, and not good for the kids. At other schools first grade classrooms had 16 and 17 students.
   She suggested once classes get to a certain size, principals schedule students into whatever school has room. Another option would be to change school boundary lines.
   Doesha Jacobs suggested to the board that all-boy and all-girl classes be tried. In other schools those type of classes have fewer behavior problems and students do better academically, she said.
   An agreement between the Tribes and 509-J District to improve tribal students academic achievement, called the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), was reviewed by representatives of both parties in May with the following recommendations:
   Develop a new method of gauging success, which is more data-driven and measurable.
   The MOU should be viewed as a working agreement (on-going).
   Remove dated language and rewrite objectives.
   Collect data related to goals and objectives each year.
   The BIA's involvement should be terminated since the BIA no longer has a "local educational presence" in Warm Springs.
   The Oregon Department of Education should be invited to rejoin the process, and collect data as an unbiased third party.
   The MOU should become a perennial working agreement with no expiration date (it currently expires in 2001).
   The MOU should receive formal assessment biennially.
   The recommendations were taken as a first reading, and are also being taken to Tribal Council for their approval.
   Supt. Phil Riley commented, "Looking back to 1986 (when MOU was drawn up) we have more tribal graduates, test scores are up and we've done particularly well in Warm Springs the past few years. We've got a long way to go, but I think there's progress."
   In another area, MHS Principal has done an extensive rewriting of the district's graduation requirement rules to update the policy and bring it in line with Oregon statutes.
   For example, two years of a foreign language is no longer required to graduate from high school, although it is required to get into college. He went over changes in the 10-page document as a first reading for the board.
   In other business:
   School lunch prices will be increased by 10 cents for students next year due to increased expenses. Salad bars will be eliminated at elementary schools because the food is being wasted.
   Under personnel, Gary Carlton was officially hired as MHS principal, and John Horn as assistant principal at Jefferson County Middle School. The board voted to hire 509-J bus mechanic Tim Whitaker as the transportation supervisor at a salary of $41,332. Both JROTC instructors were granted a request to have their 20 days of annual leave expanded to 30 days, since there isn't much for them to do in the summer.
   The board voted to accept the Reading First grant of $75,000 to use at Westside and Warm Springs elementaries. A donation of $1,000 from the Sam Johnson Foundation was also accepted to help three students attend the National History Day competition in Washington, D.C.