SLSD reviews superintendent goals

The last final has been graded and students have been enjoying summer for a little under a week but work for the South Lane School District was still in full swing on Thursday, June 22.

The board was given a report by South Lane Superintendent Krista Parent on her progress concerning goals for the 2016-2017 school year. 

Parent was given seven, multi-part goals to focus on during the year including managing the newly passed bond measure, addressing student attendance, create more equitable practices throughout the school district, create a system that requires diploma earners to meet essential skills in reading, math and writing, and improve the graduation rate.

Parent informed the board that a number of her goals had been completed, while others were sill in progress. 

South Lane's latest stats showed the four-year graduation rate jumping from 64.3 percent to 72 percent. 

In regards to the bond issue, Parent noted that the new Harrison Elementary School had broken ground and the work on upgrades to the pool would begin after the district set up a planning committee to give input on the potential design of the facility. 

 Attendance is an ongoing battle throughout the state and Parent informed the board that ongoing plans to combat the issue include coming up with a district-wide plan that would see staff time dedicated to forming solutions to the problem. Earlier this year, South Lane revealed that up to 50 percent of its high schoolers were considered chronically absent. At the time, the board decided on withholding prom and graduation ceremonies for students who continued to miss an exorbitant number of school days. According to South Lane, the method worked and students began showing up to class more regularly. 

"The math and science, you have to do. You have to learn to write an essay but maybe there's something else they want to come to school for," said board member  Gary Mort. Cottage Grove High School currently utilized elective classes and board members have noted music classes and the school's sports programs also lure students to school. 

In order to create a more equitable school environment when students do attend, Parent said the administration read "High Performing, High Poverty Schools" and hosted book clubs revolving around five books on equity. The goal is to create a school environment that offer the same opportunities to students no matter their household's income level, gender or race. In addition, Parent informed the board that South Lane Mental Health would be partnering with the South Lane School District to offer basic training in trauma  to better aid students who may be affected by outside factors. 

Kindergarten and how the district would address it was a more involved goal, according to Parent. 

"Schools across the district are very split on whether or not to delay full-day start for kinders," Parent wrote in her report to the board. "Dorena and Bohemia are starting their kinders full-day from the start of school with Harrison, London and Latham waiting until September 25." 

The issue of kindergarten scheduling is one that was listed as ongoing for the board with board members noting that child care options become deciding factors for parents' schedules. All day kindergarten alleviates that issue while switching between all day and half day creates a problem for families. Likewise, Parent noted that poor attendance is not just a high school senior issue. Kindergarten has the second highest rate of absenteeism. 

Goals Parent counted as done included increasing the graduation rate, managing the bond measure, ensuring diploma earners met the essential skills in reading, math and writing, and continuing to create effective feedback for faculty and staff. Parent highlighted this as her most successful goals and noted that principals had undergone training to better communicate with their instructors, to better serve students.