Plans promote family involvement in schools
Plans to increase family engagement in the schools, and revisions to Impact Aid policies were discussed at the Jan. 22 meeting of the School District 509-J Board of Directors.
Superintendent Ken Parshall said each school in the district developed a plan for activities during the year, to encourage more family participation in the schools. He handed out lists of the activities, which included everything from concerts and conferences to fun runs and Breakfast with Santa.
Madras Elementary Principal Deborah Hunt said her school's plan includes family nights with fun activities to learn about geography, science, reading, math and agriculture.
This is the second year for Family Ag Night. In school, classes took field trips to farms, and each grade level was paired with an ag farmer or business person. They all met on Family Ag Night for a hamburger feed, and to view a display of farm equipment and the school garden with plants grown by the students.
"I'm really pleased to see this, because it's something we've struggled with," said board member Stan Sullivan.
At the meeting, Hunt presented certificates from the board to Madras Elementary students who exceeded state grade level standards by receiving a level 4 rating on the Smarter Balanced test. The students were: Cara Todd, Joshua Gregory, Fernando Saldana, Isaiah Rubio Moschetti, Israel Reynoso Ortega, Anaiah Demoran, Jessica Arzate Rosales, Edward Robinson, Grace Fang and Aspen Toman.
The board approved Impact Aid/Indian Policies and Procedures to improve communication with tribal families. An Indian Education Advisory Committee was formed in November 2017 to do surveys and draft the policies and procedures for board approval.
Board chairman and tribal member Laurie Danzuka explained, saying that in the past, "We haven't been successful at Impact Aid hearings in Warm Springs. They were very formal and it was hard to Warm Springs members to feel heard."
"The purpose of this is to show in a better way how Impact Aid funds are spent for Native American students, to rebuild our strained relationship with the tribes, and re-engage with the (tribal) community and give them more opportunities to give input in an informal way," she said.
She said the advisory committee did a survey in Warm Springs about the educational needs of tribal children. "We received quite a few responses (100) with feedback and I thought it was really helpful," Danzuka said.
The new policies ask that 509-J give tribal parents notification of meetings and Impact Aid hearings by mail, text or phone call and postings at tribal offices. The advisory committee will meet four times a year in Warm Springs to take comments and concerns from parents about the district's educational programs.
The district will monitor and assess Indian students' participation in educational and co-curricular activities (including sports, music, field trips and clubs) and share that information with tribal parents.
Next week, 509-J teachers will have in-service training on Jan. 29. Parshall handed out a list of training topics, which included math small group instructional strategies, Darkness to Light sexual abuse prevention, crisis prevention, professional learning communities, and engaging students in math.
In an executive session, the board did a mid-year evaluation of the superintendent's performance.
Board member Courtney Snead reported that at the Madras High School Future Center, she and 11 other new mentors have completed training, and will join 10 mentors from last year to begin working with students in February. They help students complete graduation requirements and research their options after high school.
A donation of $1,714, from K. Foley and a fundraising group, was accepted to upgrade the white buffalo statue at the MHS stadium. The funds will provide a plaque, asphalt and place pavers and a chain fence around the statue.