The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Directors approve new reading curriculum


Rick Nelson

Staff and school board members listened Monday as Thomas Middle School English teacher Tina Merz, left, presented findings of a comparison of two possible language arts curriculums.

Members of the Wahkiakum School District board of directors on Monday approved a new reading curriculum, heard a report on developments in Career Technology Education (CTE) and acted on other business.

Middle school teacher Tina Merz said that students, staff and board members had compared and evaluated two new programs. All overwhelmingly favored a program called Amplify.

"Students wanted to come to class and work in it," she said. "It is very rigorous, and it is very easy to use for students and teachers."

The program is accessed through laptop computers. It has a wide variety of activities, including videos, that engage and challenge students, and she can observe the students' progress or challenges at any time. She can adjust levels to challenge good students or simplify lessons for struggling students.

Nikki Reese, elementary and middle school principal, recommend the board purchase the curriculum.

"I feel really good about what we're getting for the price," she said. The district would pay $24,600 for a six-year implementation, about $27 per student per year, she said.

Directors voted to adopt the program and implement it as soon as possible.

Students from vocational agriculture classes presented an analysis of the district's Farm Forest and the management plan they'd created under guidance from instructor Kyle Hurley.

The students divided the Farm Forest into plots, catalogued the species of trees in them and developed management plans to generate merchantable timber. One plot will be left in its natural state with signs naming the different trees so that it can be an educational area.

Hurley and Wahkiakum High School Principal Stephanie Leitz also presented a five-year plan for development of the CTE program, which includes a variety of vocational and trade related classes.

Under state regulations, CTE teachers must be certified in their areas of instruction, whether it's welding or health care. The district lacks staff and resources to offer programs that would lead to professionally recognized certification. For this reason, they said, the program will focus on introducing students to different trades and fields and help them build connections and experiences that can go on résumés.

Leitz said the school is offering three study paths for students--one for those wanting to go to a four-year university, another for students planning to go to a community college, and the third for students wanting to go into trades or technical training.

In other business, directors plan to start soon screening candidates to replace retiring Superintendent Bob Garrett.

Applications close March 9, and directors hope to start evaluating the candidates the following week, with interviews to follow.

Golf Coach Nick Vavoudis asked the board to consider adjusting the program's place on district salary schedule for coaching, and to allow the hiring of an assistant.

The program has grown, he said, with 15 students turning out this year.

The request presents a unique issue, Garrett said. The board had negotiated the salary schedule several years ago with an informal group of coaches, and the request should probably come from the group as a collective bargaining issue. He suggested the board take up the matter in an executive session.

Also, directors and administrators said they're looking for people interested in serving on a facilities needs committee which would evaluate the status of district buildings and identify issues and needs. Interested persons could contact the district office.


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