Sen. Andy Manar tours Southwestern district, gauges school funding reform

https://ift.tt/2wAPciU

  • Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, right, visits a first-grade classroom Thursday at Brighton North Elementary School with school principal, Diane Milnor, center, and Southwestern School District Superintendent Brad Skertich, left.

    Manar

    less

    Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, right, visits a first-grade classroom Thursday at Brighton North Elementary School with school principal, Diane Milnor, center, and Southwestern School District Superintendent

    … more

    Photo:

    John Badman |The Telegraph

Photo:

John Badman |The Telegraph

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, right, visits a first-grade classroom Thursday at Brighton North Elementary School with school principal, Diane Milnor, center, and Southwestern School District Superintendent Brad Skertich, left.

Manar

less

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, right, visits a first-grade classroom Thursday at Brighton North Elementary School with school principal, Diane Milnor, center, and Southwestern School District Superintendent

… more

Photo:

John Badman |The Telegraph

Sen. Andy Manar tours Southwestern district, gauges school funding reform

BRIGHTON — Illinois Sen. Andy Manar’s, D- Bunker Hill, meaningful and pointed questions to educators and students during a tour of the Southwestern School District Thursday showed Manar’s commitment to the bill (SB 1947) he sponsored — which passed exactly one year ago — for the state’s public school funding reform.

Just 90 days into the school year, public school families in southwestern Macoupin County are benefiting from Illinois’ new school funding formula, which guaranteed the Southwestern School District an additional $129,432 for the new academic year. The first disbursement by the Illinois comptroller occurred Aug. 10.

More Information

Under the evidence-based model, no schools receive less money than they did the previous year, and the previous year’s new money becomes part of the current year’s base funding. This allows long-underfunded schools to achieve adequate funding over time without penalizing schools that have already had adequate funding. Macoupin County school districts receive more than $1.7 million in new, additional funding under Year 2 of the formula for 2018-2019:

• Bunker Hill CUSD 8 – $124,058 in new money; $2.9 million total state contribution

• Carlinville CUSD 1 – $297,112 in new money; $4.9 million total state contribution

• Gillespie CUSD 7 – $473,360 in new money; $8 million total state contribution

• Mount Olive CUSD 5 – $77,987 in new money; $2.2 million total state contribution

• North Mac CUSD 34 – $220,717 in new money; $5.9 million total state contribution

• Northwestern CUSD 2 – $40,956 in new money; $1.5 million total state contribution

• Southwestern CUSD 9 – $129,432 in new money; $6.1 million total state contribution

• Staunton CUSD 6 – $352,485 in new money; $5 million total state contribution

“Communities like this were never able to offer the property tax base to get adequate funding, such as upstate and the suburbs have,” Manar said to The Telegraph Thursday during the district tour.

Manar, along with Southwestern School District Superintendent Brad Skertich, visited three district schools Thursday: Brighton North Elementary, where the tour started; Southwestern High School in Piasa; and, Medora Elementary School.

At North, they visited the first-grade classrooms of teachers Jessica Tutterow, Tiffany Hanslow and Karen Louis. Because of the evidence-based funding formula, North has gone from providing three sections of first grade to four sections, Skertich said.

At Southwestern High School, the pair visited with algebra II teacher Pat Dugas and history teacher Jason Darr’s freshmen class of students, who were engaged in a review of the U.S. Reconstruction period using digital resources — the use of nearly solely digital classroom resources is new this year to the district. Textbooks are provided digitally, online.

Manar asked Darr, as well as students, how they liked the digital resources, provided through Microsoft 365 programming and district-issued laptops, leased to students for $65 per year. Freshmen and sophomores can take the leased equipment home. Once students lease the equipment for four years, they simply pay $1 to own the equipment.

“Organization is great, notes are on the device itself, I can fire off different documents to them,” Darr explained to Manar’s questions of usability during the classroom visit. “They can highlight their primary reading source and pull up a five-minute video, accessing multiple resources in one class period.”

In week two of classes, only a handful of Darr’s students said they’d like to go back to traditional textbooks.

“It’s great and only going to get better,” Darr said.

At Medora Elementary, in teacher Kendra Campion’s sixth-grade class, students virtually visited all seven of the earth’s continents, as well as moved from traditional assigned seating to a “more collaborative-space seating” arrangement, in which students choose their own seating from day to day. Digital technology provides 360-degree image capability; “little planet” view and zoom, which allows students to see words inscribed on monuments, such as in South America’s Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city in Peru.

“In Antarctica, we could zoom in and see penguins,” one of her students told The Telegraph. “It’s better than using an iPad, like at my last school, because it has a keyboard.”

He demonstrated how he has learned the traditional home row used for typing, instead of his thumbs to access information. The majority of Campion’s students told Manar they liked the digital-based curriculum.

Next, Manar visited teacher Christy Whipps’ fifth-grade class, where students mostly were working on spelling.

Advantages to the digital curriculum cited to Manar by students included content delivered at individuals’ reading levels; math games; and, less exhausted dexterity.

The Medora staff, along with principal Scott Hopkins, adopted a hybrid curriculum of traditional and digital, though, in a conscious decision.

“We don’t want kids in front of a screen all of the time, but look at how we can use digital to make learning better,” Hopkins explained to The Telegraph. “We teach kids, not curriculum. It is a total culture change. It’s ninety days in and it’s new to me, as well as teachers and students.”

Other district evidence-based funding changes and improvements included two teachers aides added in grades kindergarten through sixth to work with at-risk math students; the addition of a high school physical education teacher; five instructional coaches added throughout the district to provide peer-to-peer professional development, modeling and focused observations to teachers; addition of a fifth and sixth grade STEM lab; new Spanish curriculum; and, the purchase of 425 devices for grades fifth and sixth grades, as well as freshmen and sophomores. Additionally, money freed up because of having stable evidence-based funding allowed the high school cafeteria to be remodeled.

District leaders will have a baseline at the end of year one, after which they will pull data to see how the new curriculum impacts instruction, Southwestern High School principal Mark Bearley said.

Manar made a promise to district leaders and staff to return next spring, in order to see and hear about results of the new curriculum.

The new school funding formula will pump more than $417,600 in additional money into Southwestern public schools during its first two years on the books and more than $4.2 million additional into eight Macoupin County public school districts combined — making the Southwestern School District currently 65 percent adequately funded, according to the what the formula considers adequate. The funding reform bill’s passing was five years in the making.

Reach Jill Moon at 618-208-6448 and Twitter @jill_moon.

010-Inoreader Saves,00-Pol RT,09-ILSN,26-Delivered,XHLSN 3

via Alton Telegraph

September 1, 2018 at 04:43PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s