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Front Page » April 22, 2004 » Local News » Director Outlines BYU Education Program at School Board M...
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Director Outlines BYU Education Program at School Board Meeting

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In the staff development session at the Carbon school board meeting on April 14, professional development academy director Myra Tollestrup from Brigham Young University outlined the program and explained how collaborative cultures in the state and local district can aid in improving education.

The venue is a three-year program known as professional learning communities (PLC) and Carbon County School District is one of five statewide districts participating.

Coordinated through BYU, the program was the featured item before the board.

Without collaborative skills and relationships among the various teachers and principals, it is not possible to learn efficiently, reported Tollestrup. Working within the schools, the district identifies any learning problems. The faculty and principals then discuss the concerns to determine if a local educator has specific knowledge to help resolve the problem or if a speaker from the outside needs to be brought in.

Often by working with the other districts, the principals determine that another school has a similar problem and have already put a new procedure in place. The principals can share the solutions.

Carbon County is the only school district with all principals participating in the program, primarily because it is the smallest district involved. Jordan School District in Salt Lake County is the largest.

"The principal is in the best position to transform the school's culture of isolationism into that of a knowledge nurturing PLC," noted Tollestrup. "School systems often do to little to assist principals to acquire these practices. If schools want to enhance their organizational capacity to boost student learning, they should work on building a professional community that is characterized by shared purpose, collaborative activity and collective responsibility among staff."

Tollestrup said, basically, it's a program where teachers, principals and administrators join ranks locally or statewide to discuss and set up curriculums to help all the students get more knowledge and skills.

In an unrelated discussion at the board of education meeting, Robert Welch, a sergeant with the Carbon County Sheriff's Office, requested that the law enforcement agency be allowed to use school buses to transport prisoners in case of an emergency.

According to OSHA regulations, the county jail must have an evacuation plan in place in case of an emergency and this would involve transporting inmates if necessary to a secure place. The board approved the request.

Deon Kone, director of buildings and grounds gave a brief report concerning building improvements and capital outlay projects in the district.

It was announced that, during the next 10 years, there will be at least one building each summer getting a new roof

Priority on the buildings will be determined by need and when the individual warranties expire.

The district office is on tap for a new roof in the upcoming summer months, while East Carbon and Carbon High schools are also targeted for improvements.

One of the capital outlay requests that caused some controversy and discussion was a line item of $20,000 that would go to the Carbon County Booster Club for service performed on the ball fields.

The money is approved every three years and basically covers repairs and improvements on softball and baseball facilities.

Jim Thompson, an English teacher at Carbon High School, voiced concerns that this program is getting special treatment.

"If money is not identified and not itemized and that bothers me," he said.

Since the item was not on the agenda Superintendent David Armstrong suggested delaying discussion on it and allowing the board and administration to address the issue.

"We need to clarify the terms and clear up any items," said the superintendent.

Since that meeting was conducted, Armstrong is recommending the money be put towards improvements in the library. The matter will be discussed and possibly finalized at the next board meeting.

The secondary schools presented their overviews for the school improvement plans prepared in conjunction with the school community council. Reports were given from East Carbon High School, Helper Junior High School and Carbon High School.

At the next board meeting the elementary principals will give their reports. The only item missing from the reports are the test scores because students are now only just taking them and the scores are not available.

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