Newtown-Harris board confirms Career Ladder for next school year

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The Newtown-Harris R-3 Board of Education approved the Career Ladder program and summer school for the upcoming school year on May 8th.

The Career Ladder program will maintain the same structure as this year. Stage 1 involves 50 hours of work for $1,500. Superintendent Dr. Matt Copeland noted the program costs the district $6,000 against $15,000 in payments, with the state covering the remainder.

Summer school will mirror the format of recent years, running three weeks for four days each week and five hours daily. The program is scheduled from May 28th through June 14th, with costs expected to align with those of the previous year.

The board also approved the Wonders reading curriculum for kindergarten through fifth grade at a total cost of $13,181.98. The district will receive consumables for the next six years and will be reimbursed through a state grant. Additionally, Dr. Copeland committed an extra $2,500 for elementary teachers to purchase supplementary materials for the Wonders program, which follows the Science of Reading model and is one of two approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Teachers had input into the program.

For the upcoming school year, the board has contracted with Occupational Therapist Kristyn Thomas of Thomas Therapy Services, Physical Therapist Kelly Sadler, Speech-Language Pathologist Denise Ewing of the Speech Solutions Agency, and Physical Therapy Assistant Shelly Gray.

Discussion of summer projects included a focus on water protection measures involving the roof, landscaping, and wall structures, with additional classroom and facilities improvements planned.

Dr. Copeland announced corrections to a document related to the Clean School Bus Grant for an electric bus and reported upcoming service and safety updates involving Integrated Facility Services and CanTex Glass and Mirror under the School Safety Grant.

Randy Small is drafting an agreement for Newtown-Harris to use his transportation services. The district is also exploring partnerships with Grundy County R-5 for cross-country, music, and band competitions due to increased interest and staffing needs.

District track championship t-shirts are currently on sale, and donations are sought to support travel expenses for the state track meet.

Preparatory work for the E-Rate program began with GRM Networks installing underground fiber connections between the high school and preschool buildings.

Negotiations with Wagner Photography will provide more cost-effective package options for district needs, including yearbook offerings.

The district wrapped up Day 6 of its end-of-year testing on May 8th, with the session set to conclude by May 10th, barring any make-ups.

The district’s Alternative Methods of Instruction Plan, allowing for remote teaching during major disruptions, was submitted to the state. Ideally, the district will minimize the use of AMI days, preferring in-class instruction.

Area Supervisor Jill James recently reviewed the district’s Continuous School Improvement Plan, which scored well according to the state’s rubric, with recommendations to enhance social-emotional development programs for students.

Dr. Copeland also provided a legislative update, expressing concerns about potential unfunded mandates in proposed bills aimed at increasing teacher salaries, which administrators fear may not be sustainably funded.

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