At Monday’s school board meeting, Yankton School District (YSD) Superintendent Wayne Kindle offered a preview of the upcoming opt-out meeting.
A public meeting on a possible opt-out for the Yankton School District (YSD) has been called for Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 6 p.m. at the Yankton High School Theater.
At that meeting, Kindle is expected to lay out the facts for the public regarding an opt-out.
“We have not had this kind of discussion for seven years,” Kindle said. “I think the district has done a very good job with the resources that we’ve had leading up to this point. Now we are at a juncture in the road where we’ve got to have a good dialogue about how we move forward as a district.”
The school district conducted surveys last year of residents, students and staff regarding priorities and goals as well as satisfaction with the job YSD has done during the last five years. More than 1,100 people responded, and data collected was used as a basis for establishing a new five-year comprehensive plan for the school district.
“From the information we received from our surveys last year, the message was very clear, ‘Continue to do the good job that you are doing in this district and move the district forward,’ and some goals were identified for the district to address,” Kindle said. “That’s the path that we are going to take. In order to do that we are going to step out and ask our community to help with some additional resources to do that.”
Kindle plans to begin the discussion with a review of where the YSD is with the resources available and the direction the surveys indicated the school district should take.
“We’ll talk about a timeline for a potential opt out,”Kindle said. “We are having the public meetings to get some more input and to lay out the facts for the public to take a look at where we are at.”
The school board has not made any decision or taken any action regarding an opt-out, he said.
Wade Pogany, executive director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, presented the Yankton school board with a plaque in recognition of their leadership and participation in the association.
Also Monday, Todd Dvoracek, Yankton Middle School principal, and Jennifer Johnke, Yankton High School (YHS) principal, reviewed the results of the state assessment taken this spring. The scores were above state averages, though there were some issues with the data. Middle school attendance was entered as 100 percent, though it is usually about 97 to 98 percent, because the actual data was lost in a May cyber-incursion.
“When you are at the top, I don’t know where you go from there,” Kindle said. “I would say that is extraordinary when we look at the middle school.”
According to Johnke, most YHS (Advanced Placement) AP credit information was not part of the assessment because the state does not have a data bridge with Mount Marty College, where many YHS students take AP classes. Johnke has worked to remedy the situation because she believes it will have a large, positive impact on the high school’s next assessment.
“The high school was right up near the top,” Kindle said. “The high school principal, Dr. Johnke, talked about, if the state would count those Mount Marty College AP classes, we probably would be right up at the top with that score as well.”
He emphasized the importance of not getting caught up in a single test, the Smarter balance Test, that students take every year.
“But we do what Mr. Dvoracek from the middle school said, we look at growth,” Kindle said. “We want kids to improve individually, and we are seeing that growth throughout the district.”
During public comment time, Dr. Jessie Scott of Yankton reviewed events leading up to her daughter’s dyslexia diagnosis. She expressed disappointment with the school district’s handling of the situation, which she said gave her no help or answers, leaving her no choice but to invest thousands of dollars in her child’s. She continues to pay out of pocket for dyslexia support for her daughter, for which she travels to Sioux Falls twice a week.
“We’ve had dyslexia diagnosed and tested before in the district. We’ve done really good with those kids over the years. We are going to continue to do that, continue to reach out to other resources,” Kindle said. “Just last Friday, Gov. Noem made some comments about dyslexia across the state, so I know it is getting some focus at the state level. We are going to work with them to move forward and do things that we think are right for kids, like we’ve done in the past.”
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• Nicole Valnes shared about elementary-level online coding classes and the donation of Google virtual reality cardboard viewers to enhance elementary school classes. Two students were on hand to demonstrate.
• Vanessa Rockne introduced the girls tennis team to the school board. The team placed second at state.
• A brief presentation was given on the difference between a school district’s general fund and the capital outlay fund.
• Lauren Hansen of United Way of Greater Yankton gave the board an update on the Big Friend Little Friend in-school mentoring program that was implemented in all four elementary schools this fall.
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