Board favors home-school accountability

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2002

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District school board voted in favor of home-school accountability and national certification for teachers Monday night at its bimonthly meeting.

The board was voting on amendments to resolutions from the Association of Alaska School Boards. The AASB must submit core resolutions to member boards for approval annually. The KPBSD board approved most of the resolutions at its last meeting but held three for further review.

The board amended AASB resolution 1.10 -- Accountability for Home Schooled Students -- to include stronger language in favor of accountability programs.

"We certainly wouldn't want people to read this and think there is not good accountability for some home-school students," said school board member Deborah Germano. "But we need to make sure all kids are getting some education."

At present, Germano said, there is no accountability system for students who are educated by their parents. While some parents do a good job, others may not meet the standards set by public education.

"Many times, home-school students come back into the public schools and need incredible remediation," added school board member Sammy Crawford. "It's difficult for the district to bring them up to speed."

The AASB resolution recommended that the Alaska Depart-ment of Education and Early Development "should have the authority and funding to track students throughout the state who are not enrolled in public or private educational institutions."

The board amended the resolution to recommend that the EED have the authority to register these students and added additional rationale to the resolution.

The board also voted to keep an old AASB resolution supporting national certification for teachers in the packet, though the AASB had recommended it be deleted and incorporated into another section.

AASB resolution 4.1 -- National Certification of Teachers -- originally supported the establishment of a financial incentive for teachers who want to participate in the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards process.

The AASB recommended this year that resolution 4.1 be deleted and incorporated into a resolution supporting a wide range staff development opportunities for Alaska educators.

Crawford moved that the board keep resolution 4.1, however, arguing that she believes the NBPTS process is an invaluable opportunity for teachers nationwide and that insufficient evidence proves otherwise.

"Part of the (AASB) comments read that some states are suspending rewards for certification because proof does not exist that it improves student learning," Crawford said.

"I spent many hours researching this. The vast majority (of teachers who have taken the test) said this was a very valuable professional development activity, before they even knew if they had passed.

"I want to keep (the resolution) in the packet until proof shows nationwide that it is not valuable."

The board voted unanimously for both amendments to the resolutions.

The board also voted to approve AASB resolution 1.10 -- Compulsory Attendance Law -- as it stood. It was removed from the packet for further consideration at the last meeting by mistake.

The board also:

Unanimously approved nominating Debra Mullins for school board member of the year.

"We appreciate all the work she has done here on this board and the peninsula and also for the state," said Germano.

"I think this is an appropriate recognition, and I'm proud to nominate her for board member of the year."

"I didn't know this was a serious nomination," confessed Mullins. "We work as a board. It takes seven of us to move the things we want to do. It takes collaboration.

"I appreciate the nomination, but in turn, I want to tell you I appreciate each and every one of you for the work you do for other board members and the students."

Unanimously approved nominating Mullins to the AASB board of directors. Mullins and Germano already hold positions on the board. Mullins is running for her seat again.

Unanimously approved a resolution designating Tim Peterson and Roy Anderson as 504 Accommodation Plan coordinators. The district is legally required to formally designated coordinators for the plans.

Unanimously voted to approve the following new teacher assignments: Suzanne M. Bishop, grades seven and eight, Homer Middle School; Susan Larned, ages 6 to 9, Montessori Charter School; Millie Lewis, special education and Quest, McNeil Canyon Elementary, Paul Banks Elementary and Fireweed Academy; Karen B. Tolman, language arts and math, Razdolna School; Agusta Lind, Quest, Seward Elementary; Tamara G. Wear, math, Soldotna Middle School; Matthew J. Fischer, generalist, Soldotna Middle School; and Jennifer Haddix, grades four to six, Tustumena Elementary.

Unanimously approved the following nontenure teacher assignments: Elizabeth A. DeVolld, music, Tustumena Elementary; and Heather Pancratz, middle school coordinator, Homer Middle School.

Unanimously approved a $65,000 budget transfer to purchase additional social studies and health textbooks to support actual class enrollment.

Heard a report from district Superintendent Donna Peterson that actual enrollment is down 113 students from last year's estimate.

"We will be analyzing the necessary budget adjustments," Peterson said.

While the board was disappointed with the news, Germano pointed out that it was not as bad as it appeared. Of the 113 students who left the district, 97 were students in the district's home-school program, Connections. Only 16 left the traditional school system.

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