Throughout February, the Blaine school district worked to prepare its math teachers for the new standards imposed by Common Core State Standards Initiative, which will take full effect next school year.
The new standards take a three-pronged approach to improving students education – narrowing and focusing the skill sets students study, creating a more logical progression of skills and making the lessons rigorous enough so that students can apply their lessons to new situations in the real world.
“We’ve placed direct emphasis on math instruction this year,” said school district superintendent Ron Spanjer. “Our math scores haven’t been doing very well relative to our English and science departments.”
To help teachers meet these new standards, Blaine’s K–6 math teachers have been undergoing instructional training through the University of Washington’s Mathematics Education Program. The program provides insight into new lesson plans, progression of skills and sample problems.
“The teachers were surprised by how much they didn’t know while going through the Common Core standards,” said executive director of teaching and learning Stacy Thomas at the school board’s monthly meeting March 4. “I’m very excited about it and it’s great to see this level of engagement from the teachers.”
At that same meeting, the board also discussed what to do with an extra $300,000 it recently acquired from state matching funds during its high school science building modernization project.
The money will be used to replace the dry fire sprinkler system at the primary school, and other projects are under consideration.
The board meeting had also been intended to allow the public input on how the board should utilize the funds, but no members of the public spoke.
“There won’t be any more public hearings, but we still welcome public input,” Spanjer said. “There are many things we can spend the money on and we would like to hear what people’s priorities are.”
In addition to the dry fire sprinkler system, the board is considering using the money to fix the deteriorating track field, make roofing repairs and replace carpet, according to a memo from the board’s taskforce.
Though there is no time limit for spending the excess revenue, the board’s taskforce has been asked to come up with an action plan for the funds by the end of May.