The first and second grade students sat on the Lincoln Elementary School library floor Thursday afternoon, seemingly oblivious to the tables full of adults behind them.
Using an electronic tablet, their teacher walked them through a series of reading lessons using humorous videos and interactive exercises. They giggled as they pronounced the words and sounds on the screen.
The youngsters were demonstrating new learning techniques in place at Lincoln to members of the Unified School District 428 School Board who met at the school for their monthly luncheon meeting.
"We began this year by being prevention oriented," said Lincoln Principal Alvena Spangenberg. The year before last, the school barely squeaked by in reaching its federally mandated adequate yearly progress in reading for one of its subgroups - free-and-reduced lunch recipients. Last year, it reached the Standard of Excellence level in both reading and math in all subgroups for the first time ever.
This also marked the first year LES has received federal Title I funds. "We started the year under a lot of pressure," she said.
To qualify for the Title I money, a school has to have a higher percentage of its students on free-and-reduced lunches (just over 50 percent at LES). The money helps fund teachers and cover other costs, but there are expectations that students do better and parents become more involved.
"We worked very, very hard under these high expectations" and have developed plans on how to remain successful.
Starting in May before school was out, they watched for students who might need help. Then, they develop interventions tailored to the individual.
Utilizing their Success for All program, they hold regular meetings, compile reports and do a lot of monitoring. "There is as lot of increased pressure to achieve," the principal said.
Teachers found minutes in every day they could use to increase learning time. They reached out through contemporary themes and new, interactive technologies they understand to better engage students. "They have bought into this," Spangenberg said. "This gives them a lot of ownership."
As for parental involvement, they hold parents’ nights, send letters home and sign compacts confirming this commitment. A student agenda goes back and forth from school to home to share information.
In other action, the school board:
• Voted to stay with the district’s current USD 428 architects (Horst, Terrel and Karst of Topeka and Overland Park) as roofing consultants on upcoming re-roofing and roofing repair projects on Jefferson Elementary and the district warehouse. There are a total of 10.6 acres of roofs on USD 428 buildings that are on a set maintenance schedule. New technologies such as coverings, foams and sealants can extend the life of a roof to over 20 years. But, eventually, they have to be replaced. The roof at Jefferson holds water and won’t drain. The district may look at other options in future years.
• Tabled action on a Hearing Health Card. A Great Bend business, EarCare Hearing Aid Center, wants to provide some services for free and others at a discount to district employees, but wanted the district to sign a contract. However, the board wanted to make sure other providers would not be excluded from making similar arrangements. The administration was going to look into the matter.
• Approved accepting a $6,600 donation from the Panther Booster Club to the GBHS activities department to be used for athletic supplies and equipment.