~Several changes mark beginning of school year
Aug 22, 2007 | 613 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There were a host of new faces to greet students in the San Juan School District as school started on August 16, including 19 new teachers, one new administrator, and several employees in new positions.

Al Clarke, who retired from the district several years ago, returns as the principal at Navajo Mountain High School. The previous principal, Lewis Singer, is the new vice principal at Albert R. Lyman Middle School in Blanding. Boyd Silversmith, who served as vice principal at ARL Middle School, transfers to a new position as vice principal at Monument Valley High School.

There are a host of changes in the district office following the recent retirement of Toni Turk. Turk coordinated the district’s efforts with federal, state and tribal governments. Lynette Johnson, previously the supervisor of secondary schools, is now director of federal programs. Ron Nielson, who served as supervisor of elementary schools, supervises instruction in all schools. The change also impacts additional district office personnel.

In other matters at the August 15 board meeting, the number of students taking norm-referenced standardized tests will decrease throughout the district.

For several years, the district tested students in grades 3 through 11 every year is in addition to the tests required by state and federal mandates. As a result, students in the San Juan School District have been tested more than students in nearly all other schools.

Most school districts test students in the third, fifth and eighth grade. The new plan also will include testing of eleventh grade students.

Superintendent Doug Wright explained that the testing was part of the lawsuits faced by the district in the 1970s. He said, “After lengthy discussions, which including discussion of the pros and cons of the alternatives, the district has decided to eliminate testing every year for every student.”

Wright said that time spent not testing will result in increased instructional time. The testing takes several days each year. While there will be cost savings, Wright added that the cost is not a key issue, saying “The time factor is a major concern.”

The board approved the purchase of a home near Blanding Elementary School for $125,000. The home is located at 281 South 200 West.

The board read the first draft of a handbook outlining policies and procedures governing extra-curricular activities.

The school board is seeking input as it identifies a vision statement and general goals for the district. The project is in its preliminary stages, but in its current form, it states:

Vision statement: The members of the San Juan School Board envision schools in which: (1) students receive a world-class education and are prepared for a global economy; (2) educators are caring, competent and knowledgeable; (3) administrators and staff are united in providing quality support and resources to educators and students; (4) parents participate in school improvement activities and support the success of their children; (5) communities are strengthened as a result of the school system; and (6) schools are fiscally responsible with taxpayer funds.

Goals for Greatness: 1- Improve academic performance for all students. 2- Improve tribal, state and federal standing of each school. 3- Ensure safe and healthy schools. 4- Attract and retain high quality teachers and staff. 5- Improve and encourage parental and community involvement. 6- Implement and maintain strategic planning. 7- Develop and maintain facilities which foster world class education.
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