By LAUREN VINCENT
• Daily Leader
The sixth item of new business on the USD No. 480 board meeting agenda Monday evening was the proposed acceptance of a grant.
“We have to vote to accept money?” joked board member Nick Hatcher.
The grant was awarded to Cottonwood and Sunflower to start a new afterschool program. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant will require the schools to prove they are striving towards sustainability. In return for data showing the sustained levels, the schools will receive $99,928 annually for the first three years, slowly decreasing in years four and five, in hopes that the program will eventually become self-sustained.
The grant money will fund the purchase of needed materials, programming, technology, teacher salaries and a $5,000 stipend for each assistant principal overseeing the program.
Not surprisingly, the vote tallied five in favor with none opposed and two absent.
A new alternative school, FOCUS, was also voted to be implemented in the 2010-11 school year.
“We’re working with middle and high school administrators on an alternative school that is a little bit different than what we’ve done in the past,” disrict superintendent Lance Stout said. “Liberal Alternative School, which is serving 55, is thriving and we are going to continue to support that. This is above and beyond that.
“The purpose of the alternative school is to provide alternative placement for students demonstrating chronic and severe problems within the regular classrooms,” Stout continued. “It will offer students an opportunity to stay on track academically in a very structured environment where establishing and maintaining discipline is the number one priority. Another purpose is to increase the graduation rate and decrease the dropout rate.”
FOCUS, however, is expected to benefit more than just students in need of discipline.
“Finally it is to ensure that all student, not only those that are having some behavioral problems but those who are in the classroom with those students, have an opportunity for quality learning,” he said.
The staffing for this alternative school would require one certified teacher for middle school students and one for high school students along with one classified para professional to assist each teacher. A name was presented to the board as a possible leader for the middle school side of FOCUS.
“As everyone can imagine, you can have a really good plan in place but if you don’t have the right person to carry this out it’s really not worth anything,” Stout said. “We did visit with Bill Waldorf. He has a military background and a unique knack for interacting with the type of students that I envision will be in FOCUS. I have seen him navigate with a student and pull that student through. We brought him into our discussions and he is thrilled about the opportunity, saying he was honored to be considered. He is willing to take on the middle school side of the initiative so we are excited about that.”
Stout went on to briefly explain a few of the other details.
“We have a curriculum that is already purchased so we will tap into that,” he said. “At-Risk dollars will fund the program. And now that the community learning center is no longer in place we have a facility to house this.”
Five other items were accepted by the board via a favorable vote. The proposed modification of the District Acceptable Use Policies, mainly network security changes to remain eligible for federal government assistance, was approved. The renewal of the Heartspring Contract, involving transport student services, at $248,040 was approved. Also approved were the purchases of 11 hot carts for food services, 38 vacuums and four copiers.
LaDonna Hall, 2nd grade at Southlawn, submitted her letter of resignation effective the end of the 2009-10 school year.
The following teachers were approved transfer between schools: Lanetta Schmidt from 6th grade to 4th grade at Cottonwood; Raven McFall from 3rd grade to 1st grade at Southlawn; Jeri Davidson from 1st grade to half-time Title 1 and half-time ESL at Southlawn; Cathi Crosier from kindergarten at McDermott to counselor at Sunflower; Rory Arnold from special education to social studies at LHS; Lisa Wiley from ESL social studies to regular social studies; and Bill Waldorf from language arts at South to middle school FOCUS teacher for the 2010-11 school year.
The following certified employees were approved for employment for the 2010-11 school year: Terri Roberts, 4th grade, Sunflower; Rebecca Breer, 6th grade, Cottonwood; Michille Bryan, technology, South; Bridget Wolden, 6th grade, Sunflower; Kayla Rose, 4th grade, Cottonwood; Amy Spurrier, 5th grade, Cottonwood; Celestina Arteaga, 5th grade, Sunflower; Lavona Swank, 5th grade, Sunflower; Jill Bowman, 6th grade, Cottonwood; Cynthia Divsalar, Newcomer ESL; Daniel Hamel, special education, South; Jane Mitchell, special education, South; Robert Wilson, Jr., special education, High School; Michelle Martin, 3rd grade, Southlawn; Ashley Moore, 1st grade, Lincoln; Wesley Anderson, math, South; Natalie Stramel, 3rd grade, Southlawn; Sarah Byrne, language arts, LHS; and Tonna Noble, counselor, Cottonwood.
The employment of the following classified employees was reported: Jennifer Farmer, secretary, central office; Cindy Moree, library para, Cottonwood; Olivia Nguyen, testing coordinator, high school; and Cori Workentine, IRC para, high school.
The resignation of Claudia Alvarez, IRC para, high school, was reported.
The transfer of the following classified employees was reported: Joni Bolen from IRC para at McKinley to Alternative School para; Anabel Castillo from IRC para at South to kinergarten para at Washington; Yanira Torres from preschool para at Washington to Secretary at South; Denise Gonzales from para at Garfield to para at McDermott; Kristen VonDette from para at Garfield to para at Sunflower; Brenda Viveros from para at Garfield to para at Sunflower; and Sasha Austin from para at Garfield to para at Cottonwood.