By Casey Klasna
Terry Public Schools Superintendent
The end of the first semester ended on January 16th and the second semester is in full swing. Semester one went well and I am anticipating a successful second semester. As Superintendent I am always looking for ways to improve the educational programs and the facilities at Terry Schools. The education programs offered are on track and teachers continue to seek ways to improve instruction.
One way to improve instruction is through the use of technology. In today’s technology driven society, technology is the norm and students must have the knowledge and skills to use technology. Considering the pace at which technology is advancing, it has become necessary to understand the importance of technology so that we can keep up with the racing times. Technology has become important in the fast life of today, which makes it necessary for today’s youth to know how to use.
The teaching staff has been doing a very nice job integrating technology into the classroom with the technology available to them. There are numerous web based programs that are research based that the teachers are utilizing for instruction and assessment. For example, Mr. Graham uses research based programs for Title I students through the use of technology. One of which is called “Reading Eggs.” Reading Eggs makes learning to read interesting and engaging for kids, with great online reading games and activities. This program motivates children to keep exploring and learning. Ms. Rein has done a fine job upgrading the library through the use of technology. We now have an automated library which in turn helps with efficiency. Inventory is easily monitored and the process for checking out books is much more time efficient. Ms. Rein has also made available a tutoring site for students called Tutor.com.
The Montana Library System has purchased a subscription through Tutor.com for all residents of the state of Montana. On this site, live tutoring is offered Sunday - Thursday 2 P.M. - 11 P.M. A study center containing exercises, resources and test prep is available 24 hours per day. These are just a few examples of how technology is being implemented at Terry Schools. With our society becoming more technologically advanced, it demands that schools continue to upgrade technology. Looking at the technology inventory at Terry Schools, it is necessary to update our technology in certain areas, and it is my goal to get Terry Schools to that point. A technology upgrade would offer the students the opportunity to use the most modern and up to date technology.
Grades K-6 has just completed the winter benchmarking for the AimsWeb assessment. This assessment is given three times a year for Reading and Math with each benchmarking period setting a target score for the students to reach. Once the assessments have been given, the data is then collected and analyzed. Students will be placed either intensive, strategic, below average, average, above average, or well above average. Through the RTI process (Response to Intervention) and as a collaborative team, a determination is made as to how to improve any weak areas the students may have. The major focus is on the strategic, intensive, and below average students. This is where instructional interventions come in to play. Terry Schools has a variety supplemental interventions that are research based that are utilized to improve student performance. Comparing the fall benchmarks to the winter benchmarks, I am proud to say that the students have made positive gains from the beginning of the school year.
The second major forms of assessment at Terry Schools are the CRT tests (Criterion Reference Tests). These tests include grades 3-8 and 10. Grades 3-8 and 10 will be assessed in Reading and Math and grades 4, 8, and 10 will also be assessed in Science. These tests will be administered in March and then the data will be analyzed. These tests will reveal the proficiency of the students in the tested content areas. After analyzing the data, a determination will be made on how to improve proficiency.
Safety of the students is a key focus at Terry Schools. It is my utmost responsibility to ensure that every student has a safe and positive learning environment.
Throughout the school year, drills are exercised for the staff and the students. A lockdown drill was performed in October simulating an intruder on campus. The drill was exercised very well. Teachers were vigilant and prompt with the lockdown drill. A school bus evacuation drill was exercised for all students K-12. With this drill, students were bussed out of town a few miles, and with the cooperation of the local law enforcement, the busses were pulled over and the simulation was that the bus was on fire. The drivers followed procedures and performed a bus evacuation with the students. In November, an unannounced canine search was performed at Terry High School. Interquest Detection Canines from Polson, Montana scheduled a time to perform a locker search of our high school building. Their search dog, “Jetta, “is trained to find firearms, ammunition, drugs, and alcohol. This particular dog is the fastest dog of the fleet searching 200 lockers a minute. The search turned up two objects. One being an over the counter pain pill (found in a bathroom) and another one being a .22 shell (found in a scrap metal can). This was the third time in two years that the high school was searched, and I am pleased to announce that no drugs, alcohol, or firearms were found. School is to be a safe and caring learning environment for the staff and the students and it is my duty to keep it that way. Being proactive and keeping one step ahead of the game is what I will continue to do as Superintendent.
One major issue raised earlier this year was access to our facilities, especially the weight room. This has been a very debatable topic for some since re-keying the high school and the weight room. Traditionally, people have had free access to gym and the weight room. It has been asked as to why the facilities were re-keyed. The answer is to keep our buildings safe and secure. Another area of concern is when strangers and non locals have asked for keys. This is a red flag for me. Most people that have used our facilities have been very trustworthy and responsible. However, the privilege has been abused by some and many keys have been duplicated and handed out over the years. The best way to manage the facilities, especially the weight room, was to re-key it. Community use of the facilities is not being denied. The Board of Trustees has policy regarding community usage of the facilities. I have drafted a policy regarding specifically weight room usage, which is waiting to be adopted at the February meeting. The policy will call for adults to sign a release and show proof of insurance (just as it already states in school board policy). With the use of our buildings, especially the weight room, it raises a liability issue for the district. If by chance someone gets injured or property is damaged, it could open up a number of problems for the district. After the policy is adopted, the weight room will be scheduled to be open Monday-Thursday from 6-8pm. for any adult individual showing proof of insurance and signing a release. The weight room usage as of now will follow the school calendar. Summertime usage will be determined at a later date.
The facilities of the Terry School district are sound. With the age of our buildings, there is always the need for upgrades and improvement. Boilers are running well and efficiently. Maintenance is currently in the process of installing more energy efficient lighting going from the T-12 bulbs to T-8 bulbs. We hope to see cost savings as a result of the upgrade. Water systems are safe and working well. Monthly water tests are conducted in all the buildings and we have not exceeded lead and copper levels, resulting in safe drinking water.
The school shop is still the area of most concern. The roof was patched last summer and so far so good. However, the problem is not fixed. It is my goal to secure monies that will replace the roof and the insulation along with new steel walk in doors. As a result of a new roof, insulation, and doors, it will be more efficient to heat and will provide a safer learning environment for the students.
Improving education and improving schools is a continuous task. It is important for the community to be involved with the school. Effective communication between the community and the school is very necessary for the district to move in a positive direction. If there are ever any issues or concerns you may have, please give me a call at school.
Published Feb. 1, 2012