The Lawrence school board decided Monday the district should take part in a new state program of outcomes-based school accreditation, and it learned that enrollment at several elementary schools is nearing or exceeding capacity.
The Kansas Department of Education recently approved the Quality Performance Accreditation Plan, which calls for schools to be accredited based on student outcomes.
Traditionally, schools have been accredited on the basis of what educators call "inputs," such as the number of courses offered, the number of books in the library, the teacher-student ratio and the type of textbooks used.
The new plan, however, emphasizes student performance, and it calls on each school and school district to decide what students should learn at each grade level.
The state is receiving applications from those districts that wish to be one of the 50 volunteer, pilot districts to inititiate the plan. In a unanimous vote, the board decided the Lawrence district should be among those applying.
"I THINK it's a very positive direction for the state," said Lawrence School Supt. Dan Neuenswander.
John Tacha, school board member, said he was "amazed" at how compatible the plan is with the district's current focus. The board presently refers to its district goals as "exit outcomes."
Neuenswander said that phrase refers to "what we want kids to know, what we want them to be able to do, and what we want them to be like when they leave this system."
In addition, Lawrence High School is in the process of being accredited by the North Central Assn. That accreditation also is outcomes based, and the school is in the process of helping students meet four goals: to demonstrate minimum competency in math, writing, reading and social studies; to demonstrate the acquisition of study skills; to demonstrate improved conduct in school; and to demonstrate improved attitudes toward school.
NEUENSWANDER said that although the state wants to monitor its new accreditation plan at only three schools in each school district, the board could implement the program districtwide if it so desired.
The state department will receive applications for the Quality Performance Accreditation Plan through April 5. The Kansas Board of Education is expected to select the 50 pilot districts during its meeting on April 9-10.
Also on Monday, the board heard a report from Craig Fiegel, the district's director for business and facilities, on enrollment problem areas in the district.
FIEGEL SAID a district boundary committee expects that, with current enrollment boundaries, Quail Run School will have 70-100 students beyond present capacity next school year. Schwegler and Deerfield schools are nearing their enrollment capacities. Also, Wakarusa Valley School presently has two classes of kindergartners and only one instructor to teach them as first-graders next year, he said.
Centennial, Riverside and Sunset Hill schools have room for growth, but not at all grade levels, Fiegel said. Kennedy School also has space for about 100 students next year.
"Your major source of relief right now is at Kennedy, and yet that's a growth area," Neuenswander said.
The board requested that the boundary committee provide both a list of alternatives for handling enrollment problems and a committee recommendation. Board members expected they would make a decision on boundaries in April and take a final vote on the matter in May.
IN OTHER business Monday, the board:
Approved submitting to the Kansas State Department of Education a project proposal that, if approved, would provide the district approximately $90,000 through Title VI-B of the Individuals with Disabilities Act.
Don Herbel, the district's director for special services, said the three-year project would provide staff development to help the integration of special education students into regular classrooms. Herbel said the district could provide incentives for teachers to participate in the program by offering them either college credit or direct payment.
Approved on first reading a revision assigning a number to a policy on district administrative organization. The policy now is No. 210.4.
Heard a report from Randy Weseman, principal at South Junior High School, about a recent symposium sponsored by the Kansas Association for Middle Level Educators.
Approved a proposal by Mary Lou Wright, board vice president, to make a grant application for landscaping at LHS.
Approved the establishment of a program to coordinate school volunteers districtwide.
Held an executive session on personnel and negotiations.