Board members of Othello School District decided to postpone their decision to offer a zero-hour Spanish class at McFarland Middle School until later this school year. Talks for expansion of Lutacaga Elementary School's dual language program are ongoing and the school board encouraged parents of the program's students to share their opinions of where it should go from here. At the meeting, held Nov. 13, Superintendent George Juarez said the district is still in the studying and research phase concerning the dual language program and will come to a decision by February 2013. One development in the process is the school board decided to split the decision into two meetings. One will decide if the program will expand to other elementary schools and the other meeting will determine if the program will expand to the middle school. If the school board votes to expand the program at either of these meetings, the district assured the public they are well on the way to being able to implement the changes in the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.
City plans to implement facility use fees The City of Othello has also decided to implement a facilities use fee for sports teams that use public property, such as the tennis courts. At the meeting, Juarez said he has spoken to city officials to sit in during their next meeting to decide the fee so he can lend his and the district's opinions on the proposed fee. Juarez is hopeful a mutually satisfying agreement can be reached.
Ready for Kindergarten Assistant superintendent Mike Villarreal also presented on READY! For Kindergarten, a program that prepares young children for learning to read in kindergarten, which has shown significant improvements in test scores. Villarreal cited a recent study showing preschool students earned higher scores in pre-reading letter identification tests than children that weren't exposed. The READY! program was developed by The Children's Reading Foundation by the request and support of the Kennewick School District, according to READY!'s website. Villarreal has been working to secure a grant from the foundation to create a summer "reading marathon" program but also said details weren't available at the time.
Math is Cool The board discussed costs of Math is Cool, another popular program that began the day of the meeting. Lutacaga fourth and fifth graders will be joined by students from the other elementary schools beginning Nov. 27, in the extracurricular activity. Participants go to twice-weekly practice to prepare for math competitions held throughout the region. According to the board, schools expect about 20 to 25 students from each grade per school, which school board president Rob Simmons said was a nice percentage. One concern brought up by the board over the program was transportation costs with assistant superintendent Gina Bullis stating the cost adds up to about $1.75 per mile traveled to competitions. The board discussed ways to try and rein in those costs by considering organizing the program under the district umbrella rather than the current model that has each separate school in charge of the program's operations.
Public forum review Recently, board members held a public forum and they discussed the results of the night's discussions at this board meeting. Members agreed the special meeting was successful and brought up important topics but were disappointed in the fact not many community members participated. The board hopes to better take advantage of the district's messenger board capabilities to advertise and make future public forum information more visible to the public. In addition to that, the board wants to publish the questions and answers to those questions in their Vision newsletter.