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July 3, 2014

School board discusses goals for coming school year

DUNCAN — As Duncan Public Schools work to prepare for the upcoming school year, Superintendent Sherry Labyer met with the Duncan Board of Education on Tuesday to set goals.

Three areas were the focus of those goals, including student achievement, technology and facilities. Within each area, specific goals were set, based on suggestions from stakeholders (students, parents) and site administrators.

“We wanted you to see the common themes from every site plan,” Labyer said. “We took things said in the surveys into account, too. We were pretty pleased with the response.”

Assistant Superintendent Merry Stone talked to the school board about student achievement, noting more goals could have been added, but the school district chose to focus on the goals that would have the greatest impact on the students.

The first of the goals was to raise and maintain a 95 percent attendance rate for elementary and middle school students and to raise the Duncan High School attendance rate to 93 percent. In the A-F Report Card, as drawn up by the Oklahoma State Department of Education, elementary and middle schools are impacted by attendance rates, which are required to reach a 94 percent attendance rate.

The second goal for student achievement was to put more focus on the gifted and talented program. Stone said there needs to be more challenges presented to gifted students. As a result, the school district plans to create a hiring committee to hire an elementary and secondary gifted and talented teacher.

Another goal under student achievement also took the A-F Report Card into account, setting sights on increasing test scores by at least 5 percent in reading, English, math, social studies, science and writing.

Under the technology umbrella, Labyer discussed four goals the district set for improvements, including developing a tool kit for educators that would help them in using new technology, measuring instructional technology use through the Teacher Leader Evaluation system, establishing Tech Tuesday for professional development in using technology, and improving the district infrastructure.

The school district has money to improve infrastructure as approved during a previous bond issue. The goal is to get the infrastructure in place. Another goal would be to set up wi-fi connections at all sites (with the exception of Duncan Middle School which already has a wireless connection).

This goal will allow the school district to begin planning for wireless devices for student use. Labyer said it may take a bond issue to purchase the wireless devices, such as iPads, to aid in student learning.

“Once we get the infrastructure in place, we need to look at what a bond issue would take,” Labyer said.

For the third and final category, facilities, the goals addressed the areas of safety and an adaptation to an expanding student populace.

The first goal is to receive no safety deficiencies from the State Fire Marshal nor the State Department of Labor. The second goal will look at annual professional development for maintenance and custodial staff on product usage and care.

On the third goal, Labyer talked about building storm shelters at Irving, Mark Twain and Plato schools. These would be built using building funds at the three sites. All other elementary schools, Will Rogers Pre-Kindergarten Center and the Duncan Middle School have safe rooms/areas in case of a tornado or severe storm.

Labyer said Duncan High School also needs a storm shelter and plans to build a new art/multipurpose building would meet the needs as it would be built as a storm shelter. She said this project would also take a bond issue to accomplish because the existing building fund would only be able to constructed a storm shelter to hold 300 students, instead of the school’s 1,000 students. The bond issue would probably be $1.5 million.

The final goal for facilities is to have the West Building at the Duncan High School become the Ninth Grade Academy and to have the EDGE Academy building become a fifth-grade center, which would create more room in the overcrowded elementary schools.

“We have got to alleviate some of that overcrowding,” Labyer said.

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