Impact Aid, attendance, Christmas concert accolades and regular procedural business sums up the last school board meeting of 2015 for the Dupree School District.
Business Manager Connie Alspach reported her findings after attending the National Indian Impacted School Association (NIISA) Conference held in Las Vegas.
At the conference, Alspach said, “ESEA – Elementary and Secondary Education Act” has finally been reauthorized after an eight year wait (reauthorization was scheduled for 2007), now known as “Every Student Succeeds Act”; With the reauthorization, Impact Aid will now be known as Title VII instead of Title VIII.”
According to Alspach’s report, NIISA is contracting the former NAFIS executive director John Forkenbrock to help Indian land school districts to determine facilities’ needs and review Impact Aid applications.
The National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS) is a non-profit, non-partisan corporation of school districts from throughout the United States, organized primarily to educate Congress on the importance of Impact Aid. Founded in 1973, the association works to ensure the needs of federally connected children are met with adequate federal funds. NAFIS represents children residing on Indian Lands, military children, children residing in low-rent housing projects, and children whose parents are civilian but work and/or live on federal property. NAFIS is governed by a board of directors elected from its membership. The association is located in Washington, D.C., with a full time professional staff under the leadership of an executive director.
“ESSA will give the state and local education governments more control on what will happen at the schools, but the schools are still bound to NCLB until next year,” said Superintendent Brian Shanks.
“We are hoping it will be more fair and less cumbersome,” Shanks said of the new act.
By cumbersome, Shanks explained that there has been over testing of the students, and he would like to reduce that testing by not having to require students to take the SmarterBalanced test that has recently taken the place of the Dakota Step.
Shanks explained that other testing within the school is more effective at giving the teachers immediate feedback concerning student progress.
Shanks said that a meeting with superintendents, teachers and others is needed to discuss things that can be done instead of all this “intrusive stuff — all of the testing and the type of testing – the testing and SLOs — a lot of money on training – a lot of time out of the classroom.”
“Right now we are thrown into the muck, then we don’t meet the needs of the students in our area,” Shanks said.
In other news, Shanks complimented the new music teacher and his ability to work with the students.
“Mr. Laughlin did a great job at the concert. The guy has a way about them [students] that is almost magical.”
“He has them active in music, in learning music,” added Elementary Principal Cindy Lindskov.
“He sings to them,” said Shanks.
The District will have a new website, Shanks said that should make finding information easier, and the new lockers should arrive and be put in over the Christmas holiday.
The board established Tuesday, April 12, 2016 as the school board election date. Three seats will be open.