BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
FARMINGTON – Though it’s not yet mandated by the state, Davis School District leaders are taking pre-emptive measures to help low-scoring schools reach higher marks.
Every other year, schools with low scores on state measures are identified as focus schools and receive state funding to make improvements.
Though this is an off-year, district leaders identified two schools that would qualify for the help, and will spend district Title I funds to help raise their scores.
“We need to be pro-active,” said John Zurbuchen, director of federal and state programs and grants. “We’re not going to sit back and wait.”
Holt Elementary in Clearfield and Whitesides Elementary in Layton have been selected for the assistance, according to a presentation at a Davis School District board workshop on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
For each school, $100,000 of Title I funds the district has been allotted will be spent to help set up a school support team, do an appraisal, conduct interviews, visit classrooms and set goals for improvement.
“We’re quite confident those scores are going to go up by this process,” said Helene Van Natter, elementary school director for the district.
One aspect of the focus is improving “bell to bell” instruction, another is educating parents on the importance of their child’s attendance, as well as how parents can help students with homework and with organizing their time, said Van Natter.
Zurbuchen called the process “a significant imposition” on staff at schools, as additional reviews and responsibilities are placed on their shoulders.
Teachers at Holt and Whitesides have been “extremely gracious,” he said, and have expressed a willingness to do whatever they can to help students progress.
The appraisal will be overseen by John Bone, who has received training as a school support team leader through the Utah State Office of Education.
In the past, he has worked with Antelope, Vae View and Fremont schools in the process, and had success.
“It will work because it’s worked before,” said Zurbuchen.
Bone was complimentary of the district’s efforts on behalf of the schools.
“You’re the only district that’s ever proposed to do this and pay for it through district funds,” said Bone. “The state school people are very complimentary.”