The Perry Community School District Board of Education heard from the principals of all three buildings and received reports from numerous other departments during their January meeting Monday.
The first matter discussed was an update on Instructional Practices Inventory (IPI) throughout the district.
Director of Teaching and Learning Kevin Vidergar noted that the district-wide procedure, in which teachers stop in a classroom for five minutes to witness the level of student engagement in learning. He noted the process is now in the fourth year of use in the district and noted it is not used in teach evaluation, but that information gathered is discussed among staff on how student involvement in lessons can be increased.
High school French teacher Teresa Kresse went into detail on the program, noting that, at PHS, at least one teacher from each department (math, science, etc.) is a part of IPI.
Kresse noted IPI uses a one-to-six scale. A one is given for complete student disengagement with the lesson, a two for students working but the teacher is not engaged, a three for students working with the teacher engaged, a four for teacher-led instruction, a five for student learning conversations and a six for students actively engaged in learning.
“The reason we have people from different departments is that, for instance, if I were to stop by an auto mechanic class, I may not understand that some students doing one thing are actually doing another,” Kresse explained. “We also do not normally observe during testing or when a substitute is teaching.”
IPI data is collected in the second, third and fourth quarters of the school year. Kresse noted what she termed “a significant decrease in student disengagement” over the past three years, as well as “a noticeable increase in the fives and sixes we are seeing,” all of which points, she said, to “a growing sense of understanding how we can better involve all students” in the learning process.
Vidergar then reviewed the district’s goals. These included fully putting in place the Iowa Core Curriculum, increasing student learning and capability on the Iowa Assessment Test, creating a “safe school environment” and closing the academic achievement gap that currently exists between Hispanic and non-Hispanic students.
PHS principal Dan Marburger reported on the continuing efforts at the senior high to implement the Iowa Core Curriculum and to increase progress in English Language Learner areas.
Shaun Kruger, middle school principal, said a main goal in for grades six through eight has been to improve overall student learning in reading and math, with daily 30-minute Power Up classes designed to help students in those areas.
“Right now we have about 170 students in enrichment classes,” Kruger said. “We are working hard to make sure each student receives any help they need.”
Perry Elementary Principal Trevor Miller and Assistant Principal Joel Martin noted a main focus of their recent efforts has been to reach the “bubble kids” or those who are considered to be on the border between proficient and non-proficient.
“We also want the staff to know we appreciate how hard they have been working to help us meet our goals,” Miller said. “We feel it is important to celebrate even the small things, to understand that you cannot make big changes overnight and that each win is a step forward.”
Superintendent Lynn Ubben noted the board will be holding a working session later in the month. The board, she said, would focus on their continuing efforts to advocate on behalf of students and continually communicate their concerns with state lawmakers. Also to be addressed will be ways to effectively share information with the public and work most efficiently and effectively with staff to continue improvement in all areas.
Steve Cook addressed the board about his duties as manager of the Performing Arts Center (PAC), which he has held for a year.
Cook noted that the American Legion, Dallas County Library Association, Perry Public Library, Showtime Dance Studio and the VFW all held events in the PAC, all in addition to numerous school functions. He explained his duties include set building and tear-down and operating the audio and lighting systems as well as supervising the facility and helping to coordinate any activities at the PAC. He also noted the positive comments he often receives from those who use the facility.
The purchase of a new school bus was discussed by Transportation Director Troy Griffith. He noted the specifications and needs were basically the same ones that has been in place for several years. His guidelines were approved, with bids likely to be ready in time for the Feb. 8 board meeting.
Vidergar and Marburger spoke about participating in the Iowa NET High Academy, which the board approved. Designed to aid students who fit a specific academic need, the cademy would receive the per-pupil money the district receives for each student.
Marburger noted there are currently two senior high students who fit the requirements. Should those students succeed, they will then be graduated from PHS.
Approval was then given to revisions of several board policies, for three early graduation requests and for three resignations.
The board also approved the list of various fundraisers, including a request by the PHS vocal music department to hold a vocal music camp as an additional fundraiser and a request by the middle school band and choir, who will sell items to help fund special activities.
The PCSD Board of Education meets the second Monday of each month in the Brady Library at Perry Senior High.