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Program praised by R-P school board

Fri, Nov 20th, 2009
Posted in Education

Teachers Shari Michel and Cheri Vix gave an enthusiastic presentation regarding a new program in the district at the Monday, November 16th, board meeting. While the goal is to have the program eventually reach more grade levels, the program currently has a limited number of students.

Entitled Reading and Study Skills, the class aims to increase comprehension of both fiction and non-fiction texts, strengthen fluency, and enhance the vocabulary of participants. In addition, there is a minimum goal of 60 pages per week. Accuracy in the number of words read per minute is also stressed. The class is based on a largely successful Iowa program.

At the beginning of the first quarter, when the program was first implemented, English teacher Michel reported that the students were initially "heavy, non-readers" who gave a slight bit of resistance to the program. Now, the teaching duo can't keep up with the students' progress. "It's amazing to see their excitement," she added.

When questioned as to why the program is so successful, Vix noted multiple strategies such as extensive independent reading, assigned reading with coordinating exercises, games, simple rewards, and the modeling of proper reading skills.

Superintendent Chuck Ehler made mention to the board that there is an indication that participants in the program typically show a 15-20 percent increase on MCA tests over their scores from previous years. Both he and the board commended the teachers for their work.


A recent media publication has given pause to Superintendent Ehler's viewpoint on technology in the school environment. Noting that he's seen a massive technology-driven change in education, and it's continuing to expand, he's "kicked-around" some ideas.

In this digital age, Ehler said he is sensing that the district needs to find an attraction that would allow it to be marketed more efficiently alongside other districts. He called the changes he's seen within the district in the last two years, "mind-boggling," yet he believes there needs to be more done to draw in students and families.

Councilor Roger Metz echoed the sentiment adding, "There are so many positives in the community. To live here and have what we have, it [the word] has to be gotten out." He went on to point out that the district has the potential to become a poster child for flourishing communities.

District Communication

Board Chairman John Nitecki was thrilled at the passing of the district's new operating levy referendum, as was the rest of the board. Still, he was concerned with the lack of communication between the community and board members. He felt the district did all they could to reach out and seek community input, yet there was little feedback and assistance in the process from some. "Every parent has the responsibility to act," he added.

While the passing was an obvious win for the district, Nitecki felt that it may have been a failure in some regards. While he stressed that the people who voted against the levy were well within their rights, he acknowledged that the number who opposed it without questioning the board directly or contacting the district confused him. Nitecki insisted, "I don't wait to hear from them [the community] once every four years. If we want to grow as a district we need more involvement."

Get Involved

The next regularly scheduled school board meeting is Monday, December 21st, at 7:00 pm, in the high school biology room. The public is encouraged to attend.

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