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Curriculum items to be voted upon in Dist. U-46


By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 will vote on a series of curriculum items, some in preparation for the district’s career pathways plan, at its upcoming meeting on Monday, June 4. The items were presented on May 21.
  Included were resource proposals for Advanced Placement (AP) environmental science courses as well as the Escalate English for English as a Second Language students, the implementation of a pair of AP courses (music theory and studio art program) at Larkin High School’s visual and performing arts academy and a high school physical education (PE) proposal.
  The career pathways plan, in which the district would expect middle school students to choose a path and ultimately pick which high school to attend, was discussed regarding a few proposals. U-46 will seek magnet status for the district’s high schools under the pathways plan.
  Regarding the AP music theory and studio arts program proposal, board member Melissa Owens asked about the differentiation between high school academies. Trisha Shrode, director of curriculum and instruction, said that while these courses may at some point be offered at other high schools, the plan is to start at Larkin.
  “We wanted to focus where we thought this should start and then make decisions as we go through that career academies and educational pathways determination as part of the rewrite of the magnet,” Shrode said.
  “Expansion of the offerings to the other four high schools… will be considered at a later time,” the proposal stated dependent on how the district moves forward with the career pathways plan.
  Shrode also said the courses would only be open to academy students at Larkin, not the general Larkin student body, “because of the staffing.”
  Regarding the high school PE course proposal, Shrode said the courses being considered would be open to all high school students regardless of which path they choose.
  “We’ve been trying to dispel the myth that you can’t have any flexibility in the schedule if you go towards an educational pathway,” Shrode said. “That’s just not accurate.”
  Between resources and professional development, the AP studio arts program would cost $66,681 and AP music theory $8,808. The courses would be evaluated with student and teachers surveys as well as passing rates on exams.
  Board member Sue Kerr asked if these courses would be replacing any current courses to which Jaimie Giraldo, fine arts coordinator, answered: “This gives the students the opportunity, once they have identified what their stronger media areas are, to be able to focus on building that college level portfolio to pursue postsecondary instruction in that area.”
  Under consideration for high school PE are advanced leaders, introduction to leadership, lifeguard certification and leadership and senior PE leadership courses. Textbooks, equipment and technology for the program would cost $76,402, and professional development would cost $9,860.
  The lifeguard certification course is being proposed for implementation in the 2019-20 school year at all five high schools, the equipment for that course alone costing $14,964. The district hopes to train six to eight teachers to be able to certify students as lifeguards.
  The course would include a fee of $80.38 to students “because you have to pay for the certification and then you also have to pay for the text,” according to Tracey Jakaitis, PE coordinator. Jakaitis said that fee could be reduced once there’s one-to-one technology as the text is available as a free download on Chromebooks.
  Board member Jeanette Ward asked if teachers instructing swim classes in the district are already lifeguard certified. Jakaitis said “some of them are lifeguard certified but they have to be lifeguard certified trainers” in order to certify students.
  The AP environmental science proposal is for updating resources, which the proposal states the “current text utilized was published in 2003,” as well as ongoing professional development through the College Board for six teachers and through McGraw-Hill for six teachers, five division chairs, two sciences coaches and the science coordinator. The texts include Cunningham’s “Environmental Science: A Global Concern,” McGraw-Hill’s “Connect: Online Instructor Edition with Instructor Resources” and e-textbooks through ScoreBoard and LearnSmart.
  The total cost of the proposal is $57,420 and the course will be evaluated on how many students take it, complete it, take the AP exam and pass the exam as well as student and teacher surveys.
  The Escalate English course, for sixth through eighth graders, is seeking to update “obsolete” resources according to the proposal. The total cost with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is $213,489.
  Kerr noted that there were several e-books in the proposal and asked if the district has the technology for that. Annette Acevedo, director of English Language Learners, said: “We do have some, and we’re hoping to continue to acquire more and that’s why at this point we also have the print copy.”

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