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White River school leaders give community look at progress

The White River School District administration invited the community to find out what kind of education its students are receiving.

“The White River School District is really a great place to educate kids,” deputy superintendent Janel Keating said during an Aug. 25 presentation. She said the commitment to see kids through to graduation begins in kindergarten and each teacher and staff member plays a role.

This spring, White River High School saw a 90 percent graduation rate and every junior took the pre-college PSAT test. The district got help with that task by switching the testing date from a Saturday to mid-week during school hours and with the White River Education Foundation picking up the tab.

The high school also has nearly 200 more students enrolled in Advanced Placement classes than in 2006. WRHS also offers more AP courses and has plans to add more in the near future. Students are seeing success in those tougher courses. AP government and AP psychology, Principal Mike Hagadone said, are seeing a 70 percent pass rate.

At the middle school level, principals Teresa Sinay and Andy McGrath said in addition to the rigor that’s been added at their level, they’ve noted an increase in Glacier Middle School’s band and chorale programs. Musical interest in general has stepped up. Glacier now also has a number of students taking zero-hour piano, guitar and percussion.

The middle school also is now offering a required full-year computer class for sixth-grade students that is integrated with other classes so students are learning computer know-how with practical applications.

Not ones to leave eighth-grade students out, this year GMS will have a foreign language option in French and Spanish with a future Chinese option down the road.

The district plans to continue its work in math, writing and science as well. Keating said the district’s math work with consultant Janis Heigl is paying dividends.

“We may have some of the best elementary math scores in the state,” Keating said, referring to the soon-to-be released state assessments.

District leaders note staff collaboration and a continued concentration on intervention at each building is a key to student success.

In other business, the board:

• approved a $38 million budget for 2010-11. With an increase in levy dollars and a decrease in state and federal funding, the district anticipates spending $29.6 million on basic education.

District leaders are anticipating 3,925 students will come through the doors today, Wednesday. Of those, 485 will be enrolled in vocational education and another 527 will participate in the special education program. Overall enrollment is anticipated to be down almost 100 from last year.

The budget also accounts for 225 certificated staff. About 80 percent of the district’s budget is in salaries and benefits.

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