By Leigh Morris
For the Star-Gazette
An innovative program designed to boost student math skills may be launched as early as January in the Virginia Elementary School.
At Monday evening’s school board session, Superintendent Brent O’Daniell and Principal Jason Vicich were given the green light to begin advertising for a Response to Intervention (RTI) math program teacher. A teacher could be hired at the Dec. 16 board meeting.
Virginia now has a full-time RTI reading teacher who is able to provide intensified intervention for students who are lagging behind their peers. Depending on the level of need, students receive 30 to 60 minutes of additional reading instruction each day.
The reading initiative is generating positive results as evidenced by the recently released Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) test results, according to Vicich. However, elementary and junior high students came up short on math results.
“We need to get out in front of this before there is a huge problem (in math),” Vicich told the board.
In a proposal to the board, Vicich noted that a third of the elementary and junior high students are falling below the 25th percentile in math performance. Without intervention, Vicich antici
pates this number will increase as math standards grow tougher.
The RTI reading program began producing visible results immediately, “however the big results (making AYP for the first time in 10 years) was achieved four years after curricular revisions were started,” Vicich advised the board. The principal anticipates similar results with an RTI math program.
It is anticipated the first semester cost of the RTI math program will be about $25,000. O’Daniell said the cost can be covered by using a $14,000 educational fund surplus plus a transfer of the remaining monies from the working cash fund. Finding money in next year’s budget to continue an RTI math program will be somewhat more challenging, but board members and administrators indicated they are up to the task.
“I think we should find a way to make this work sooner rather than later,” said board President Matthew Werner, echoing the sentiments of the entire board.
The board took initial action on the 2013 tax levy. The 2013 tax rate will be $4.74 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. This represents a 12-cent decrease from the 2012 rate of $4.86. Final approval of the $33.5-million tax levy will come at Dec. 16th board meeting when a Truth in Taxation hearing will be held.
In other action, the district will apply for a $250,000 matching fund state energy efficiency grant. If approved, the money will be used to replace windows and exterior doors in the existing school building. In addition, funds will be used to replace existing lights with high efficiency lighting. Work of this sort typically results in significant reductions annual electric and natural gas expenditures.
In addition, the district will apply for a $50,000 match fund state maintenance grant. This would allow the district to install new flooring in the 1981 addition as well as install a new stage curtain.