School board sets goals

With overall enrollment continuing its expected decline, the school board will establish a committee to respond to declining enrollment and other reform issues at the high school. The board also approved its annual goals Monday night, setting a guiding course for the upcoming year.

Superintendent Juli Di Chiro presented initial enrollment numbers for the 2007-08 school year. Overall, the district enrolled about 85 fewer students this year than last, about what was expected.

"There's no big surprises," Di Chiro said.

While individual grades gained students, the problem lies with incoming kindergarten classes not replacing the graduating senior class, she said. Although this year's kindergarten class is slightly larger than last year's, only 167 enrolled, compared to the 268 seniors enrolled for the upcoming year.

Declining enrollment over the past several years led to the decision to close Briscoe Elementary and Lincoln Elementary Schools in recent years, a decision opposed by many parents of children at both schools, who have since been relocated into the city's three remaining elementary schools.

Goals for the year

The school board goals fall under four categories: improving academics, implementing the five-year strategic plan, monitoring construction projects and passing the new Youth Activities and Academics Levy to replace the Youth Activities Levy.

In addition to adopting goals required by the state for academic improvement, which the board characterized as reactive, it added several additional priorities for the year. Tracking student progress and developing personal education plans topped the list.

Priorities established for construction include developing a plan for student relocation, adopting sustainability standards and staying on budget and on schedule.

The main goal with the Youth Activities and Academics Levy is to pass the tax at the Nov. 6 election and develop a decision-making and budgeting process to distribute the funds.

The board also left a category for research and development, meant to be "place holders" for ideas that are not yet main priorities. Ideas under this category included a more in-depth second-language program, investigating workforce housing options to address the rising cost of housing and considering partnerships with local colleges.

At the end of the goal-setting process, board chair Mat Marr reminded the board that the goals were still subject to change.

"With any document like this, it's living, it's breathing," he said.

The board will present more in-depth enrollment reports and a discussion of long-term goals in the five-year strategic plan at the October meeting.

Athletes earn high marks

Also in preparation for the new year, the board reapproved the athletic academic policy for a second year. The policy requires high school students to pass five classes with the grade of "C" or better to remain eligible for competition. Two academic coaches monitor grades every week and provide tutoring or other assistance to those in danger of failing.

Athletic Director Karl Kemper highlighted the high number of teams making the top-10 GPA rankings in the state, including the volleyball team, which has won the state championship and sportsmanship award in addition to having the state's highest combined GPA.

"So you're nice, you're smart and you're good," Kemper said. "We're working toward that nice, smart and good theme."

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or .

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