In the past few years, Hillsboro schools have seen an influx of students whose first language isn’t English, English-as-a-second-language (ESL) coordinator Ellynne Wiebe told USD 410 Board of Education on Jan. 9.
This year, the district has 16 ESL students, ranging from preschool to seventh grade. In that range, every grade has at least one ESL student, and first grade has five, Wiebe said.
Spanish is the primary language of most of those students. There is one student whose first language is Chinese.
Wiebe expects more ESL students to enter the school system in the next couple of years, based on information from Parents As Teachers.
Once identified for ESL instruction, a student must meet fluent proficiency on an assessment for two consecutive years to get out of the ESL program. Even then, the district must continue monitoring for another two years. Learning a second language fluently usually takes five to seven years, Wiebe said.
ESL students receive 30 to 45 minutes of special instruction four days a week.
Wiebe and para-educator Marcia Findeiss handle ESL duties. Wiebe said the small staff creates a challenge, especially because Wiebe splits time between ESL and Title I duties.
Wiebe hopes to increase ESL training for regular classroom teachers. She said there are several routes for teachers to earn “endorsed” status, and the district can receive extra funding for time ESL students spend in class with an endorsed teacher.
Facilities upkeep agreement renewed
USD 410 Board of Education approved renewal of an agreement with Tabor College to pay for staff for upkeep of shared athletic facilities.
Under the interlocal cooperation agreement for management of the facilities, college staff handle upkeep and maintenance, and the district pays half of the cost of one full-time employee to the college.
Between wages, taxes, health insurance, and any other benefits, the school district’s share is $1,721 per month.
Middle and high school art teacher Dustin Dalke gave a presentation about an animation class he is teaching.
For the fall semester, the class focused on hand-drawn animation. For the sake of simplicity, the students mostly animated stick figures, although a few were more ambitious.
Even a short, simple animation required 50 or more minutely different drawings, with some of the longer animations taking as many as 250 drawings. Dalke said even simple animation can take weeks of class time.
In the spring semester, the class will shift its attention to computer animation.
The class is part of a new career and technical education pathway. Dalke said the class takes a lot of work, but it has a chance for high rewards. He said it will be beneficial for students who seek an artistic career after high school.
In other business:
- Hillsboro Middle School Principal Greg Brown presented the quarterly report for HMS. He said sixth graders who were previously struggling in math and reading showed excellent progress in testing. He credited decreasing the stress of the test with helping the students. HMS also gained three students in three days in December, when two families moved to the district.
- The board met in closed session for 66 minutes to discuss personnel matters. Hillsboro High School Principal Max Heinrichs met with the board for part of the closed session. No action was taken on return to open session.
- Contracts were approved for Jacob Shenk, HHS assistant and HMS head wrestling coach; Bob Woelk, drama coordinator; Dustin Dalke, drama assistant; Jeff Haslett, assistant HMS and HHS track coach; and Terach Antoine, temporary high school wrestling assistant coach.
- Superintendent Steve Noble’s contract was renewed through June 30, 2014.
- The Technology Excellence in Education Network Mashup will be Monday in Herington.
- The board met in closed session for 15 minutes to discuss negotiations with teachers. No action was taken on return to open session.
The next board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 13.