The school year is still new, but a group of Mid Valley Elementary School parents already have a few concerns, which they voiced at Wednesday’s school board meeting. Among the complaints were that classroom sizes are too large, new bus schedules are creating safety issues and there is a distinct lack of dual-language instruction.
“Mid Valley funneled four kindergarten classes last year into three first-grade classes this year, which puts 30-plus kids in each class,” parent Darla Kroll said. “The only solution is to find the funding for a full-time teacher for an additional first-grade class.”
According to the most recent enrollment figures, Mid Valley’s first grade classes have 32, 31 and 30 children each, compared to May Street’s 28, 29 and 28, Parkdale’s 23 and 22, and Westside’s 24, 25 and 25.
Supt. Charlie Beck responded that there is always a drop in enrollment after a few weeks, and it is the administration’s practice to re-evaluate after that has happened.
“We look at student counts very carefully after the 10-day drop,” he said. “We have scheduled a review. But we have to balance the finances and do the best we can with what’s available.”
Parent Kim Yasui said that students who received dual language instruction for six years at Mid Valley are not getting that instruction once they move on to Wy’east Middle School.
“Eighteen parents have signed a letter saying they want more dual language instruction,” she said.
“I heard two things that we should be doing: More Spanish and more teachers, and both require finances,” Beck said.
The board also approved the hiring of Kevin Noreen, of Sherwood, as new human resources director, to replace Bob Dais, who is retiring. Dais will work with Noreen between now and Sept. 20, when he will take over the position.
“I truly believe we have found the right candidate for human resources director for Hood River,” Beck said.
Beck also commented on how happy he is with how well the professional learning communities (PLCs) are going so far this year.
“I had an opportunity to visit Mid Valley recently and the PLCs could be videotaped and shown as a teaching tool for PLCs,” he said. “They really knew what they were doing, were so focused; I was really impressed.”
According to information supplied by the Hood River County School District, the PLCs are being used as a collaborative approach to increase student learning. Each Monday begins an hour late for students, which allows teachers time to work together analyzing student work, developing common assessments and sharing ideas on instructional strategies and unites of instruction.
Using student data, staff will also work to design additional time and support for students who need it, and enrichment or extensions for students who already “get it.”
At the elementary level, teachers work in grade-level teams, such as a second-grade team or a fifth-grade team. These teams are working on math and writing instruction this year.
Middle school and high school teachers work on content-area teams, such as science or the arts, and are focused on creating common assessments and implementing common core standards.
The standards and expectations for students are increasing at all levels, kindergarten through grade 12. For example, in order to earn a high school diploma, the class of 2013 will have to earn a passing score on the state tests in reading/language arts and writing. The class of 2014 will continue this trend and must also pass a math test.
Middle and high school students may attend supervised study halls prior to school starting each Monday. Transportation from home to school must be provided by parents. There is no cost for the Monday-morning study halls.
Monday late start times for schools
Cascade Locks — 8:45 a.m.
Hood River Middle School — 8:50 a.m.
Hood River Valley High School — 9:15 a.m.
Center for Alternative Learning (CAL), HRVHS — 9:15 a.m.
May Street — 8:45 a.m.
Mid Valley — 8:50 a.m.
Parkdale Elem. — 8 a.m.
Westside Elem. — 9 a.m.
Wy’east Middle School — 8:45 a.m.
For more information visit www.hoodriver. k12.or.us or call the district office at 541-387-5011.
The next school board meeting will be held Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the district office, 1011 Eugene St., Hood River.