Northern schools report to school board
Apr 02, 2008 | 2165 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Administrators at the three public schools in northern San Juan County reported on activities at their schools at the March 12 meeting of the San Juan School Board.

Enrollment is steadily increasing at Monticello High School, with enrollment in the fall expected to top 300 for the first time in several years, reported Principal Scott Shakespeare.

Enrollment was 279 in 2007 and increased to 286 by March. Shakespeare reports ten new students since January. A large sixth grade class and smaller graduating class could increase the total to more than 300 when the new school year starts in August.

Test scores continue to fall for seventh and eighth grade students. Shakespeare reports the school has focused instruction on this group this year. Teacher Judy Barton is teaching eighth grade English as part of that effort.

Despite the challenges with dropping test scores, 31 percent of the eighth grade students scored in the top ten percent on national tests. The school expects a three percent increase in language, math and science scores this year.

Shakespeare said the San Juan Education Foundation has contributed to a project to replace the aging curtains in the high school auditorium.

Board president Merri Shumway said, “Good things are happening at Monticello and your scores look great.”

Monticello Elementary School plans to increase the emphasis on science in the future, according to Principal Lance Hatch.

The school has strong reading and math programs, with 81 percent of students proficient in language and 87 percent proficient in math in 2007. Hatch reports that the school goal is 90 percent.

Hatch reports the reading programs are successful, with all students receiving instruction at their level every day.

In addition, the math program is successful, particularly with teachers supplementing instruction. Hatch reports that the district incentive plan, which pays teachers for an increase in math test scores, has had a positive impact, “Teachers are thinking about each individual child rather than just getting through the curriculum.”

Despite the successful math and reading programs, just 69 percent of students are proficient in science. Hatch said science scores have remained the same for 30 years and added, “It is time to change.”

The plan to increase science instruction includes focusing on science at the core academy, purchasing leveled science books with trust land funds, and adding science books to the reading curriculum. “We can kill two birds with one stone,” said Hatch.

Despite the strong test scores, Hatch said, “When we talk to the high school, we find that we aren’t doing nearly as well in reality as we do on the tests, so the high school teachers are working with the elementary school teachers and providing focused ideas for instruction.”

Enrollment remains steady at La Sal Elementary School, despite the loss of 100 jobs at the nearby Lisbon Valley copper mine, reported lead teacher Shelly Thayn.

Enrollment dropped for several years, leading some La Sal residents to fear that the school would close. By May, 2006, enrollment was eight students. By May, 2007, enrollment increased to 20 students. Growth was driven, in large part, by seven students in the kindergarten class. This month, enrollment stands at 14 students and projections estimate three to five students a year entering the kindergarten class. Thayn said that the impact of the mine closure on the school has been minimal.

Thayn reports that 84 percent of students last year were at benchmark for reading. The goal is 100 percent, which was reached in 2006.

The percent of students reading at benchmark grew from 67 percent in September to 79 percent in January.

It has been three years since the school was cut to one certified teacher and a highly-qualified aide. Thayn asked to restore the second teacher. She said that the school struggles to meet the needs of students with a reduced staff.
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