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Curriculum, program of studies approved
USD 428 adopts next K-6 English series
HMH Into Reading will be the next English Language Arts curriculum for students in grades K-6 at Great Bend USD 428. The committee that recommended HMH said it utilizes the science of reading. - photo by photo by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

Teachers who piloted two possible programs for the next K-6 English Language Arts (ELA) adoption were split between HMH Into Reading and Savos, but the curriculum committee ultimately recommended HMH. The school board approved that recommendation on Monday.

Superintendent Khris Thexton said it was a close vote between HMH and Savos. 

The HMH Cost proposal for the seven-year contract is a total of $387,427 for all K-6 USD 428 students, administrators reported. This equates to roughly $42 per student, per year for these resources over the life of the contract.

This was the second reading for both the K-6 ELA curriculum adoption and the second reading for the Great Bend Middle School Program of Studies for 2025-2026. Both were presented to the board in February and approved at the May 4 meeting.

Hurt feelings

For the ELA adoption, board members Deanna Essmiller and Chad Burroughs followed up on questions asked last month, but the vote to approve the adoption was 5-0. (Board members  Karen Lindberg and Sara Williams were absent Monday.)

“Teachers brought their concerns to us,” Burroughs said.

“Obviously, some feelings were hurt,” Essmiller said.

Burroughs said some teachers wanted to know how the price dropped from an original quote of $1.1 million to under $400,000. Director of Teaching and Learning JoAnn Blevins and Assistant Superintendent John Popp described some of the negotiation process, noting that the publisher first included add-ons that weren’t part of the pilot. Additional areas of savings were shared in February and again at Monday’s meeting.

“Can you give (teachers) this breakdown?” Burroughs asked. “I think they would feel better seeing the actual numbers.”

“I communicated some of those things,” Blevins said.

Popp said publishers might consider some of the negotiations to be proprietary information. “We’ve never gone through the whole negotiation process; that’s not usually public information,” he said.

The process

Administrators described the two-year process for curriculum adoptions and why HMH Into Reading was the committee’s recommendation. USD 428 curriculum committees use that time to review standards, select and pilot two potential programs, and make a selection.

The HMH proposal includes both print and digital resources, interactive videos, and components that connect and adapt well for English Language (EL) and diverse learners, they reported. Student workbooks, paired with teacher guides, are easy to follow and provide the opportunity to print additional work pages and options for differentiation. Illustrations in the book reflect diversity and are visually appealing and engaging text for K-6 students. 

The HMH proposal includes blended text and digital resources:

• Teacher & Student Digital Resources

• Print Teacher Guides & Instructional Resources

• Print Student Consumable Book

Special Services teams at each building will also receive teacher guides and instructional materials, as well as intervention resources for students needing additional help.

Training is proposed for the summer with on-site trainers from HMH to ensure that teachers receive the best opportunity to utilize the robust resources. There will also be two on-site visits during the year for ongoing training for instructional coaches and anytime access to answer questions along the way.

GBMS Program of Studies

The GBMS Program of Studies book describes all the courses available to Great Bend Middle School students for the upcoming school year. At the February meeting, GBMS Principal Myron Ellegood discussed several course description updates, wording, and curriculum changes previously approved by the Curriculum Steering Committee. 

One new course that had not yet gone to the committee in February was a Career Technical Education (CTE) elective called City Planning and Disaster Relief.