Central Services Facility
NCSD News Briefing: Jan. 10, 2011
Lesson in history: Trustees learn about the Compact
During the work session Monday, trustees engaged in a discussion about the history and importance of the Compact, the Natrona County School District's governing document. The Compact is an agreement that was made 11 years ago with the NCSD Board of Trustees, Cabinet, Natrona County Education Association (NCEA), Natrona County Association of Educational Support Staff (NCAESS), and Service Employees Independent Organization (SEIO). It is a compact of trust that governs how NCSD and the organizations structure decision-making in order to assure that all major decisions impacting students are reached through a consensus process.
Trustees discussed strengths and weaknesses of the document, which, according to those who helped create it, has provided stability and brought back trust in the district.
Some of the strengths mentioned were that it has repaired relationships and opened the lines of communication, it outlines a process for negotiations, allows all voices to be heard and provides transparency. Two of the biggest areas of improvement discussed by board members and employee organization representatives were that there still is language that needs refined and the controversy surrounding the Interest-Based Agreement Process (IBAP).
“That's the beauty of this document,” Superintendent Joel Dvorak said. “It is a living, breathing thing and we have a process by which to change it.”
Dvorak has plans to transform it into more than just a governance document; he wants it to become the district's continuous improvement document, as well. He and his staff currently are working on refining language and will bring forward any proposed changes to the Compact Issues Committee.
For more information about the Compact, click here.
Board approves lockset replacements, consolidated grant
Trustees approved bids for lockset replacements at Dean Morgan Junior High and Midwest High School to Prairie Pella Wyoming (Rex Robertson, Co.). Dean Morgan's project will cost $44,312; Midwest's will cost $26,190. Major Maintenance funds will pay for the projects. The new key system will increase security, Mark Antrim, associate superintendent of Facilities & Technology, said. The number of keys checked out will be controlled, and staff will be held responsible for the keys that do not come back. This project also will reduce the number of doors that can be entered from the outside.
Trustees also approved a consolidated grant in the amount of $10,542,451 for fiscal year 2011. The carryover of fiscal year 2010 funds is $3,872,784, for a total of $14,415,235 available to spend this fiscal year. These funds are available for use by federal programs designed to close student achievement gaps (i.e., Title I, II, III and IV; vocational education and special education).
Trustees hear reports, updates
Equine Assisted Learning Program
About a year ago, Dr. Mark Mathern, associate superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction, was approached by Tammy Ray, Transitions Learning Center assistant principal, and Julie Feiler, NCSD social worker, with the idea of introducing animals — specifically, horses — as part of a learning process for students who struggle with connecting and building relationships. The board approved the Centaurian Program, with the money coming through an innovative Wyoming Department of Education grant. Carol Santistevan, owner of Reach 4 A Star Riding Academy, has done this sort of work for some time (outside of the school district) and opened her facility to the program. This school year marks the second year of the program for Transitions students, and it is producing stellar results.
Engagement, remaining in and graduating from school were the markers of success for the 2009-10 school year. Of the 39 students served, 94.87 percent have remained engaged in school, attendance was at an 80 percent minimum, and 100 percent of seniors served graduated.
“This is therapeutic for these kids,” Ray said, noting the importance of this opportunity to the students. “A lot of them heal through this program.”
Steve Hopkins, associate superintendent of Business Services, gave a report on the district's audit that was completed in December. He said an annual financial compliance audit is required each year, and that the results were discussed in detail with the Board Budget Committee. Human Resource grant managers already have put one “finding” into corrective action (no details were given about what the finding was). The audit has been filed with the federal government, Wyoming Department of Education and State of Wyoming Department of Audit.
Hopkins and Dr. Dvorak updated the board on the status of the two bills that will move into legislative session this month: the funding bill and the accountability bill.
Hopkins explained that a special Select Committee looks at the funding model every five years and recalibrates it to ensure it remains cost-based. The cumulative recommendation brought forward by consultants was to reduce K-12 funding by nearly $100 million, however, Hopkins said the legislative committee didn't take the recommendation and left the funding model in-tact. The committee also is looking at the distribution model, or the method by which districts will receive funds.
The Recalibration Committee passed the accountability bill by an 8-5 vote. Dvorak said the timeline for this bill is to have an accountability model for math and reading achievement in place for the 2011-12 school year. He has asked Mike Flicek, director of Assessment & Research, to prepare an impact study of the proposed accountability model, as well as review the strengths and weaknesses of one of its formulas. Dvorak plans to report Flicek's findings at the Jan. 24 board meeting.
The district will follow the progress of both bills into early March, when the legislative session finishes.
“My interest is that we help shake legislators into making these really good bills,” Dvorak said.
There are several other education-related bills, he said, which “reflects the national flavor of accountability.”
Dvorak explained to trustees that $2.1 million came out of the Natrona County Jobs Fund, and that the district currently has access to that money. These are one-time dollars for employee compensation, he said, assuring that “not one dime will be spent without board approval.”
In other board news ...
Trustees approved the personnel report, which can be found in the board packet on the Board of Trustees page.
Trustee Dave Applegate reminded trustees that architects will soon be chosen soon to begin renovating Kelly Walsh and Natrona County high schools, as well as build a new high school campus. It is a very exciting construction time in Casper, he said.
Trustees will hold a retreat from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 12, at the Casper Petroleum Club. Topics of discussion will be setting board goals and strategies.
The next board meeting will be held Jan. 24 at the Central Services Facility. The regular session will begin at 7:30 p.m.