Here’s a rundown of the three major issues addressed at last night’s school board meeting.
Elementary Reading Curriculum
The district purchased a new, integrated, language arts curriculum for kindergarten and first grade last year. The previous year, first graders showed an average growth in reading ability of 11 points on a standardized ‘screener’ evaluation. This year, with the new materials, first graders showed an average growth of almost 27 points on that same evaluation in just the first three months of the year. Wow! The district is now proposing expanding this new curriculum into 2nd-5th grades, at a one-time cost of $220,000. Highlights of the integrated curriculum include the use of regular books rather than special publisher anthologies, as well as diverse materials that draw in a wider range of students than previous programs. I was also happy to learn that “independent reading”– where students choose a book on their own just for pleasure– is integrated daily into every elementary grade level, from kindergarten on up. Watch the presentation and discussion here; the presentation slides are available here.
Turf Field Contract Approval
The board unanimously approved a contract to install a new turf field at the high school, as well as resurface the track. The contract includes $35,000 to install the Emmaus logo at center field and the word “Emmaus” in the end zones. It does not include a new scoreboard. There was no discussion of the contract at this meeting, as these issues were debated extensively at previous times (see here, here, here, and here.) I’m looking forward to the new facilities that will provide a safer environment for the student athletes in our community as well as a space which the community as a whole can be proud of.
The Future Ready Schools Program
Future Ready Schools is a national program focused on helping school districts “move quickly toward preparing students for success in college, a career, and citizenship.” My colleague on the board, Adam Smith, has been invited to be one of just ten educational leaders nationwide to sit on the advisory board for the school board efforts of the program. His work on this Future Ready board opens the doors for the East Penn School District to be more centrally involved in national discussions and initiatives for building excellence in our schools. You can watch Superintendent Campbell’s remarks about Mr. Smith and the Future Ready Schools Program here; Smith’s remarks here.