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home : education : education September 30, 2014


4/16/2014 1:34:00 PM
Principal offers plan for longer school day
Ruth Erickson
Chronotype staff

At the Monday, April 14 meeting of the Rice Lake Board of Education, Rice Lake Middle School principal Josh Tomesh proposed plans for a universal intervention block to be incorporated into the regular school day.
Tomesh said data shows 80% of students' needs are being met by the core math and reading instruction. However, the other 20% are in need of specialized instruction to meet grade level expectations.
Tomesh told the board that at present those students are being pulled out of study halls and provided additional interventions in an effort to get them up to grade. However students in band and/or choir do not have a study hall, so they must be pulled out of music or avant-garde classes like art or technology to provide that extra instruction.
In an effort to better meet the needs of all students, the principal is proposing adding 15 minutes of instruction each school day by slight changes to the school day's starting and ending times that would not affect bus schedules.
The principal is proposing a school day that would run from 8:05 a.m. to 3:20 p.m., starting next school year.
This school year the school day begins at 8:15 a.m. and ends between 3:15 p.m. and 3:20 p.m., when all of the school buses have arrived.
By extending the school day those few minutes on each end of the school day and tweaking lunch times, Tomesh is proposing a daily block of time for interventions, from 8:05-8:40 a.m., that would not take any minutes away from core curriculum subjects.
The principal said the schoolwide block would allow all 65 staff members to provide instruction during this time to small groups of 10 or fewer students.
An anonymous survey of staff showed the majority support the proposal.
The small group, allowing for more individualized instruction, would be aimed to meet all levels of achievement-lower to upper spectrums.
Tomesh said that in the past the school has struggled to meet the needs of gifted and talented students.
When asked by board president Keven Jensen about the majority who fall in the middle of the spectrum, the principal said there are "endless possibilities."
Tomesh said instruction extensions could be targeted toward any number of areas of interest. He said the focus of the block would be instruction, although each Friday may be reserved for behavior-related training and the building of community and character.
"I think it's an exciting way of thinking out of the box to address a lot of student needs," said Superintendent Larry Brown, who suggested the board think it over as a 1-year pilot program, get input from the community and bring it back for a vote at its April 28 meeting.
Tomesh concluded, "At the end of the day, it involves more reading, writing and math. How could we go wrong?"

Other business
In other business, the School Board:
• Approved resignations of Lisa Valentine, special education teacher at Tainter Elementary; Lynda Wyse, head coach of the Warriorettes dance team; Melissa Schultz, middle school Science Olympiad advisor; and Gary Larson, head girls basketball coach.
• Accepted the hiring of Alexandria Theilig, junior varsity softball coach; and Joe Haines, assistant track coach.
• Commended Paula Brettingen for 4 years of service on the board; and Gary Stinson for 1 year of service on the board.
• Approved a 2014-2015 shared service contract with CESA 11.
• Heard a preliminary staff report by school administrators.
• Approved establishing an activity fund for Odyssey of the Mind, a creative problem-solving competition. One of four teams from Rice Lake Middle School qualified for World Finals in Ames, Iowa, May 28-31. The students are raising funds for this trip.
• Heard that bids for the middle school project came in $200,000 under the projected budget at $3.8 million. Bid openings for the Tainter and high school projects are still upcoming.
• Moved the April 28 board meeting to 6 p.m., so as not to conflict with an awards program also scheduled that evening.
• Following closed session approved a compensation package for the superintendent.

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Article comment by: jim streuli

a child should NEVER be pulled out of a so called avant garde class in order to teach a test. Whatever a student is interested in & wants to take should be considered "core curriculum" to that individual student. My step daughters were pulled out of other classes to "teach the test" without mine or their mother's permission at a school district near Rice Lake. When I found out, they went back to a regular schedule & worked harder on their Math in the present time given. They are now back up to speed with very little "extra" time. Just mostly concentrating harder on the task at hand. Plus letting them know at 11 that they won't be driving at 16 without a b average also helps!!! 20% seems a little high. Maybe teachers also need to reevaluate their teaching skills, pairing slow students with faster learners before thinking of adding more time to the day. Plus students can learn while eating lunch. Being musically inclined, the latest approach by school districts all over Wisconsin to teach the test versus students dreams truly saddens me.

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