Third graders who fail reading may not advance

February 24, 2017

By Pat Maurer

New proposed State legislation, signed by Governor Rick Snyder last fall requires that third grade students who aren’t reading at grade level would be retained, Superintendent Jim Walter told the Board of Education Monday evening.

The legislation is raising controversy with the Michigan Education Association.  A retired educator (with 38 years of teaching experience and a Masters in Learning Disabilities) said, “If you don’t retain children early, in kindergarten or first grade, the social and emotional stigma caused from being held back far outweigh the possible academic benefits that might be gained from retention. A better way to help children experiencing reading difficulties at this age would be strong intervention and remedial programs.”

Walter said, “We know that retention actually has a negative impact on a student’s education from the research, so even though the legislature’s intent may be good, we’d be foolish to ignore the research.  If we’re thinking at all about retaining students, it should be very early in their schooling.  The law does allow for a variety of good cause exemptions.  Most importantly, we need to provide our kids as much high quality literacy instruction as we can give.  Intense intervention and the home reading plan are the parts of this legislation that can add up for students.”

The BOE also approved budget amendments at the regular meeting Monday. Superintendent Walter updated the Board on the summary of budget changes.
The original budget showed revenues totaling $14,012,439 and expenditures totaling $13,957,661. The amended budget shows revenues of $14,407,495 and expenditures totaling $14,032,830.

The projected fund balance at the end of the year will increase by $374,665 for a final total fund balance of $1,942,995 or over 13 percent. The major changes were in revenues (an increase in student count caused mainly by the way the district is able to count adult learners who are taking high school completion courses rather than GED).

In expenditures, the major changes were in operations/maintenance – heating controls in the high school, basketball hoops in the high school gym (funded in large part by community donations), and the purchase of a new maintenance vehicle.

A Letter of Agreement for the Clare Transportation Association contract was approved by the board. The added wording was an addendum to the 2012-15 school year and the approved Letter will be for the 2015-18 years. The change provides compensation for inclement weather days that are not forgiven by the State (State Aid) and provides no compensation for days added (make-up) days at the end of the school year.

Board Secretary Sue Murawski read a letter to the Board from Department of Natural Resources Division Chief Russ Mason, which lauded two teachers, Jason Koch and David Gould, for their foresight and commitment to Michigan’s natural resources. The two have “created an outstanding wildlife education day titled “Deer Camp,” Mason wrote.

Other business at the board meeting included:
*Approval of the purchase of a work truck for $25,332.05 from the State of Michigan.
* Approval of bills payable for January 2017, in the amount of $133,473.01.
*A report from Student Council President Bailey Hubel that this year’s prom is currently being planned and will take place on April 22nd.

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