Education

New math program for school district

Glenn Reid
Glenn Reid Fresno Bee Staff Photo

Teachers in the Bass Lake Elementary District will be implementing a new math program this year. Based on the new state standards, the program is called Eureka Math. The District spent most of last year making the decision on which math program to adopt.

A committee representing teachers and principals from all of our school sites met in the fall to define the parameters of what we needed to look for in a good math program. This math committee was facilitated by a consultant who helped the members narrow down the features of an effective math program that would be looked at more closely.

The committee settled on three programs and teachers were asked to actually teach out of each program for a short period of time. This “fast track” piloting gave our teachers a real feel for what these programs would be like to teach on a daily basis. The committee was leery of publishers who would drop in and tell all about the wonderful things their program would do for students – only to find out that when put into practice – their claims were not accurate. The teachers then voted on the program they felt would be the best to implement.

Many of the teachers actually asked their students which program they preferred – and Eureka Math was enthusiastically endorsed by the students. Eureka Math was the unanimous choice by all of the teachers for all grade levels - and that is saying a lot. In all of my years in education I have never been part of a unanimous curriculum selection. The Eureka Math program is one that actively involves students in exploring and understanding basic math concepts. It is activity based and is currently the most widely used math program in the United States.

The gymnasium project at Wasuma Elementary School has been completed. The first building of its kind in California on a school campus has finally been finished. The monolithic dome construction project was the final major project completed with Measure R school bond funding. Along with matching funds from the state, these dollars have been used to not only build the gymnasium at Wasuma, but to modernize the campuses at Oak Creek Intermediate and Wasuma, and to completely rebuild Oakhurst Elementary.

The Wasuma gymnasium will be used for sporting events, PE classes, assemblies, and other gatherings of the school community and the community at large. This type of construction was selected for its relatively inexpensive cost when compared to traditional methods of construction and for its energy efficiency. Domes are relatively common in other states for these reasons, and are extremely “green.”

Students and staff were allowed to “try the gym out” during the last few weeks of the school year. They have all given it a resounding thumbs up. Both the 8th grade and Kindergarten graduations were held in the gym last June – and both were beautiful events. The staff at Wasuma is looking forward to using the gym in the coming year.

This year, the district is encouraging parents to revise their emergency cards, student registration forms and free and reduced price meals applications on-line. Several mailers have gone out to alert parents that they may be able to save a lot of time this year by using the Parent Portal to take care of those “first of the year” information packets.

Parents who are interested should go to the district website at www.basslakeschooldistrict.com. The front page of the site contains links to a wide variety of things that can help get the school year started smoothly.

School breakfast will be offered beginning the first day of school. The Breakfast program was a huge success when we piloted it last May and June. Participation rates were better than expected and we anticipate growing the program this year.

Our tardy rates went down and it felt good ensuring that our students had a nutritious breakfast to start their day with. Further information on the Breakfast program has been mailed home during the summer. Check with your school office if you have any questions. Free and Reduced students eat for free. Paid students are charged $1.50.

Parents are reminded that the personal exemption that used to be allowed for immunizations is no longer available. Parents who do not wish to have their children vaccinated will need a doctor’s note stating the reasons why the child should be exempted. Un-vaccinated students without the doctor’s note will not be allowed to start school. Contact your school office with questions.

Regular school attendance will be an area of focus for the district this year. The district has policies and procedures in place for students who are truant (absent without excuse for 3 or more days).

This year we will be focusing on students with chronic absences. These are absences that may be excused by parents, but the number of absences exceeds 10% of the school year. Almost 12% of our students are chronically absent – that means that 12% of our students are missing 10% or more of their school year – and we feel that rate is too high.

Our teaching staff is outstanding and they provide such engaging lessons that when students miss significant amounts of class time – they really miss out on some great opportunities for learning.

Some data on chronically absent students reveals that children chronically absent in kindergarten and first grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the end of 3third grade, and that by sixth grade, chronic absence is a proven early warning sign for students at risk for dropping out of school.

It is vitally important that children come to school regularly and on time. Missing instructional days is not a good habit to get established.

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