Kindergarten to Senior- good things are happening at the NCSD No. 1 schools

LUSK – Monday night’s school board meeting was market by several staff and student presentations that showcased the progress that has been made in the first quarter of the school year as well as the good things coming down the line. The FBLA students who attended nationals and are returning this fall discussed their experiences in Chicago. From Shark Tank speakers to pizza and subway navigation to workshops the week of travel was full of learning and fun. Sponsor Laura Lyons talked about the opportunities the students had and emphasized that one of the the goals of trips like this are to develop life skills that the students can take with them after graduation. The chapter continues their fundraising efforts and are selling butter braids and will be hosting a silent auction.

WYVA Teacher of the Year was recognized at the meeting as well. Michelle Thompson, an elementary special education teacher was praised for her ability to work with teachers and help in the classroom to keep virtual students engaged and learning with the mainstream students. 

Mrs. Wasson, Mrs. Bruegger and Mrs. Zerbe from the elementary primary classes filled the board in on the fun and learning that has been happening in the K-3 classrooms. Incorporating science, math and language arts is the pumpkin unit that will include a field trip to the pumpkin patch and learning about the parts of the pumpkin and its lifecycle. Sixth grade learning buddies are being utilized for math by the combined second/third classrooms. Students are broken out into smaller learning groups and the sixth grade students come in every day for approximately thirty minutes to help the younger students will reinforcement activities. Bruegger stated that it was amazing to see how the older students are helping younger students not only remember math skills but leading in positive behavior and interpersonal skills as well.

Mental health team members Anna Skeen and Jeremy Naslund discussed the expansion of the Social Emotional Learning programs at the middle school and high school. Middle school (7/8) will be included in the Tier 1 Level: True Thought curriculum which consists of a lesson with reinforcement in all classes throughout the week. This is the same curriculum they have been familiar with from grade school. Tier 2 for those students that need more help with SEL development will be exposed to Second Step and Tier 3 students are those that require individual counseling. Naslund has started those lessons. 

Sources of Strength will be the program for the high school. This is a suicide prevention and culture based anti-bullying program. This program utilizes adult advisors and they will be recruiting for mentors in the following few weeks.

Skeen expressed her appreciation to the board and administration for their support in the implementation of mental health and SEL learning. Skeen stated, “Not all districts have such support and as the kids and teachers benefit hopefully too the community will and we all benefit. We appreciate the investment and hope that the district can help bridge those gaps from lack of mental health access in our community.”

Five students from the district competed at the Wyoming State Special Olympics. They brought home various medals in several events. They will compete again in the spring. These are the first regular special olympics being held since COVID.

In the administrative reports Principal Robyn Heth reminded those present that Senior Night will be held at the Volleyball and Football games on Friday with a tail gate party from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the high school. Juniors and seniors will be doing ACT testing next week and parent/teacher conferences will also be held with more information to come on the website and facebook page. 

LEMS Principal Tiffany Assman detailed the work that staff have been doing in PLC team meetings and working with the the Win Culture representative. Marzana Research did a comprehensive literacy audit October fourth and fifth and that will come with a full report. Pumpkin patch field trips for kindergarten through third will be happening. Mrs. Kerkes is organizing a history trip for middle school (6,7,8) students to travel to Washington D.C. in June of 2023. For more information parents can contact the school. WYVA students are also included in this activity. October nineteenth there is an all-school assembly at 1:00 p.m. for some celebrations and awards. They are also planning a middle school dance with date to be determined.

WYVA Head of Schools Joe Heywood reported that there are currently just over 600 students enrolled. The last few years WYVA has been making WyTOP testing a priority and it has been a source of frustration that the testing company refuses to make practice tests available to virtual students the way they are available to bricks students. A slight compromise has been reached with WYVA teachers now having access to a authoring tool that will allow educators to build a database of assessments, quizzes and practices for other teachers and students. As Heywood said, “The hope is that this is a step in the right direction for getting WYVA students prepared and exposed to that very aggressive test and the structures and formatting. “

The special education department is sitting right around 180 students between WYVA and bricks. The vetting program to determine the appropriateness of the virtual environment for special education students has been implemented. It is hoped that this program will allow a more appropriate placement of those students than has happened in the past. Heywood also elaborated that the enrollment process for WYVA utilizes a Stride/K-12 enrollment specialist working with the family. Once students are in high school they may not be credit deficient to enroll in the virtual school. This is because the state declined to approve WYVA as an alternative high school option which means they cannot offer good credit recovery options. 

The special education department continues to work with the state on pulling all the components together for Medicaid billing component.

Business Manager Katie Caffey updated the board on the purchasing process changes. This is changing to tighten up the timeline for expenditures. At this point budget review and projection is difficult if vouchers are several months behind.

Superintendent George Mirich reminded board members that the state school boards association state conference is coming up and they can notify the district if they are interested in attending. Mirich will be attending the University of Wyoming school partnership group and they are hoping to come in contact with prospective student teachers for spring 2023 and even the 23/24 school year. November 14 the Wyoming Department of Education will be present to host a digital learning listening session. Anyone in the district or community that wants to attend to give feedback for or against digital/virtual/distance learning may attend and comment. 

Staff will begin participating in a book discussion series starting with the title “Explicit Instruction”. In order to achieve specific standards goals you must have intentional instruction and that is what the book discusses. 

Win Culture is working on the school improvement plan. Mirich anticipates the consultant will be updating the board on this plan and what it will look like in the near future. 

Board members discussed the benefits of attending not only the state board conference but the national conference as well. They encouraged any board members that are elected on November 8 to attend these meetings if at all possible. Attendance to these events also helps the board maintain their “Certified Board” status as a group. Chair Lexie Ashurst also offered PLC educational materials that she obtained a conference in Vegas to any board members or staff that are interested in learning more about this foundational concept that is being utilized in the district.

The Title 9 Policy (AC-R) was approved one first reading.

The staff handbook was approved after lengthy discussion regarding several grammar and verbiage correction. The handbook is for certified staff only.

In old business the last round of the board self evaluation form results were discussed. In the area of student services the board had scored mostly threes and fours. These items. In the budget and finance area there were mostly threes. Many questions and comments accompanied this feedback including “Do we encourage input from community, staff and students throughout the budgeting process?” and “What is the purpose of the budget hearing”. Some questions were and answered and the board expressed that they would like more to attend the budget hearings in the future to assist with the process.

Following an executive session the board adjourned.

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