Forest Grove's O'Neill says adoption part of new Common Core program

Assistant Superintendent John O’Neill asked the Forest Grove School Board to approve supplemental math materials for use in classrooms Monday night — materials, he said will help the district in its ongoing efforts to meet Common Core grade-level benchmarks set by the state.

The board gave the request a green light in a unanimous vote. “I like what I see,” said board member Charless Waterman.

Common Core is a new set of national curriculum standards for math, science and social studies that nearly every state in the country has adopted. Unlike “No Child Left Behind,” it didn’t come through Congress — state-level officials put it together.

“Currently, 15 districts and 22 schools are using the material we’re recommending,” O’Neill said as he passed out samples to the board. “This program meets the needs of Common Core and exposes students to real-world problems and how to solve them. It’s a different way to approach core material than ever before.”

O’Neill said that with board members’ approval, the district would start using the program this year for grades 3 to 5. “The cost will be about $21,000, and we can pay for it out of this school year’s budgeted funds,” he said.

Newly appointed K-4 math coordinator and Dilley Principal Angella Graves said she and volunteer teachers have formed a leadership team to help with Common Core mathematics achievement. “All the team members said they loved the materials, and the teachers have indicated their approval, too.”

Cost of materials for grades 3 to 8 will be $118,000 annually, said O’Neill, adding he would ask for that amount to be included in the 2014-15 budget. He added that professional development instruction on the use of the curriculum is included in the requested amount.

The board also granted a request from district technology director Brian Hawkins to enter into negotiations for a new high-speed Internet provider. Hawkins said that bids would open this week and that he and other officials from a consortium made up of the Forest Grove, Hillsboro, Beaverton and Tigard-Tualatin school districts would be selecting providers to replace longtime provider Comcast.

A new contract will likely cost the district $200,000 to $210,000, Hawkins said. The old contract cost $151,000, but Comcast “could no longer provide a Service Provider Information Number that allowed the district to receive 79 percent of the cost back from the federal government,” Hawkins said.

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