Q&A with Grass Valley School Distrct board candidates
Five candidates vying for three seats will have to face decreasing revenue and declining enrollment at the Grass Valley School District if elected.
Rob Avery, Bonnie Taylor and Paula Roediger return as incumbents, challenged by parents Jeanne Michael and Jerald Leitherer. The Union posed the following question to each candidate; their responses are below.
The Union: If elected, how would you increase test scores and quality of education while dealing with decreasing revenue and declining enrollment?
We have a solid framework for success in place now. The Grass Valley School District already is an excellent place to get an education. Both of my children thrived here. With the current budget challenges, we need to focus on the fundamentals of reading, mathematics and science, while doing everything we can to maintain the arts and other rich programs of our district. We need to support our teachers and keep reductions as far away from the kids as possible. Collaborative teaching methods will continue to help us to focus on the goal of a quality education while meeting California standards.
The scores on the annual standardized tests aren’t as high as they should be. In some cases in the Grass Valley School District, the standardized test scores dropped to a level that essentially violates state and federal law.
If elected, a key issue I would examine is whether students are able to utilize all school days fully to do the necessary work to be a successful learner. Additionally, students must cover all of the materials that are on the state tests.
As a board member, I would make proposals and vote for policy guidance and updated training for teachers and administrators to help them match their work to the specific needs of individual students to achieve the minimum legal standards.
To deal with decreasing revenue and declining enrollment, changes to the current school schedule as well as extra attention to attendance are likely to be necessary. This will maximize the dollars provided by the state.
How to improve test scores in the district during a budget crisis: Identify where the weaknesses are (grade level, student, subject) using data from the tests. Develop a plan – involve teachers, administrators, parents, aides, board members. Make use of the master teachers in the district to form teams, and use all available non-classroom time. Involve the after-school program; here is an opportunity for additional time for students to improve skills. Provide parents with tools to use at home to help their students. Examine what is going on during and before testing time that could have a negative effect.
Testing is one part of education, other important elements are not as easily quantified. Participation in school activities, attendance, respect for others, healthy choices help a student succeed in life. Focusing on testing at this time is of prime importance; consequences for continued Program Improvement status are serious.
We have little control over the state budget, so we need to address programs that we are able to control and manage. I would continue to support the early release for teacher collaboration, using this time to analyze test results and target areas that need improvement so class curriculum can be adjusted to meet those needs. I would promote the increase of parent and community volunteers to help in the classrooms and other programs.
I would continue to support incentives programs that promote student attendance. I would emphasize more support for the extracurricular activities such as band, athletics, and clubs that promotes self-confidence and would continue to draw families into our unique community to increase enrollment.
I have had two daughters graduate from Nevada Union and I have another daughter at Lyman Gilmore and a son at Hennessy.
Our weekly teacher collaboration time allows our teachers to have a continuous pulse on their students’ learning and enables them to more easily shift instruction according to what their students need to learn.
Our focus is always on student learning and improvement, even with our limited resources.
We strive to keep all cuts as far away from our students as possible, and we have chosen to maintain our fine elective programs because we know that a well-rounded student will be more prepared for high school and beyond. I authored the “Be Present” campaign to increase student attendance in Nevada County, for better student learning and for increased school funding.
To contact Staff Writer Greyson Howard, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4237.
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