Board of Education Highlights
The Harrisonville Schools Board of Education is considering the addition of a computer science program for students in grades 7-12. Assistant Superintendent Dan Erholtz presented information to the Board at their regular December meeting on Dec. 18 about a plan to add courses at Harrisonville Middle School, Harrisonville High School, and Cass Career Center.
“After hearing the need for computer skills throughout all industries, looking at our current computer science offerings, and complying with new computer science requirements from DESE, the district wanted to develop a computer science continuum that would reach from 7th grade through the Cass Career Center,” said Mr. Erholtz.
For the 2019-20 school year, the proposal would add Computer Science Fundamentals, a quarter-long course, for eighth graders and Computer Science Discoveries, a semester-long course, for ninth grade. Seventh graders currently take Apps Maker, a quarter-long course.
The Cass Career Center would also add a Networking and Cyber Security block program for juniors and seniors this next school year as well.
“The feedback we have received from students, sending school counselors and administrators, and our industry partners all spotlight our need to add an IT program to our offerings. After visiting some of the top career centers in our state, it was evident we needed to focus our efforts in networking and cybersecurity. We are excited to be offering students the opportunity to achieve three nationally recognized certifications within the two-year program here at the CCC,” said CCC Director Jeanette Flanner.
During the 2020-21 school year, HHS would add a year-long Computer Science Principles course.
The new HMS and HHS courses would use a free, online curriculum and teacher training would be done through Science City. No new teachers would need to be added at HMS or HHS and the courses can be taught using Chromebooks which the students already use. There would be an additional staff member needed for the CCC program which would be funded through sending school student tuition.
The board will consider approval of the proposal at the January meeting.
In other action, the board…
- Recognized the HHS December Students of the Month, Bailey Kliewer and Zach Chaney.
- Recognized a donation of equipment and supplies from the Belton Fire Department to the Cass Career Center.
- Waived the teacher contract day that was missed due to weather on Nov. 26. The day was originally a professional development day and some of the training scheduled for that day will be made up on the Jan. 2 work day.
- Approved the purchase of a universal screener for the district to help identify students who may experience lower than expected academic outcomes. The program was recommended to the board by a team of 12 teachers, principals, and district administrators.
Harrisonville High School students will have the opportunity to participate in more labs, extended learning times, and more project-based learning thanks to a new schedule for the 2019-20 school year approved by the Board of Education at its November meeting.
The high school staff brought a proposal to the Board in October for a modified block schedule for next year. The hourly class schedule would remain unchanged on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, however on Wednesday and Thursday, students will have extended class periods of 85 minutes. On Wednesdays, students will attend hours 1,3,5, and 8 and then on Thursdays, they will attend hours 2,6, and 7.
Principal Mark Wiegers said, “By making the move to a modified block, students will be guaranteed to be in class four times each week, with one of those times being for an extended 85 minutes. During the blocked days, students will be able to participate in longer labs, project-based learning, research, and extended practice. This change will in no way impact graduation requirements, or the number of credits a HHS student can earn. We believe it will have a positive impact on the learning that our students engage in.”
The change will not impact start and end times (7:40 a.m. - 2:50 p.m.), and the school will continue to have early release on Thursdays at 2:25 p.m.
In other action, the Board heard a proposal from Harrisonville Early Childhood Center Principal Becky Campbell for a change to preschool offerings for next year. Staff at the school are working to ensure more students are kindergarten ready. The proposal would expand offerings for four-year-olds to five half days per week with a morning group and an afternoon group. Offerings for three-year-olds will be decreased to once-a-month parent/guardian-and-child classes in addition to the weekly Parents As Teachers playgroups and monthly PAT events.
“There is no predefined ‘best age’ for beginning preschool, but there are several factors to consider. Students should have basic self-reliant skills, be comfortable with the absence of their parents, have physical stamina for preschool, and be able to function within a standard schedule,” said Mrs. Campbell. “Based on our experience at ECC, we find that the four-year-old students are developmentally better prepared to attend school, and to begin adapting to a school environment in preparation for their kindergarten experience than their three-year-old counterparts.”
She added that the monthly three-year-old parent/child classes will provide the opportunity for the child to adapt to the school/classroom setting with storytimes and centers.
Campbell said, “Students will get a feel for the classroom, and their parents will get ideas for helping their students prepare for school life in their homes.”
This proposal will allow for the school to serve more four-year-olds than currently enrolled. The Board will be asked to consider approval of the proposal in December.
The Board also approved a revision to the School Resource Officer contract with the City of Harrisonville to add one hour per day to the contract so that an officer is present throughout elementary school dismissal time in the afternoon. Currently the SROs work secondary (HMS/HHS) school hours. This change will provide additional safety and security to cover all times that students are in class throughout the district.
The Board also...
- Approved a band trip to San Antonio for spring 2020.
- Recognized the HHS Students of the Month for November - Briseida Chavez and Peyton Holden.
- Recognized members of the Harrisonville Middle School Kindness Committee - Eli Getz, Sydney Ballard, Brook Leimkuehler, Dayton Hoffman, and Lezlie Wade.
- Heard the annual special services program review provided by Director of Special Services Annie Knox.
- Established Tuesday, December 11, 2018 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. through Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. as the filing dates for candidates to the Harrisonville Cass R-IX Board of Education election Tuesday, April 2, 2019. Offices to be filled are two (2) three-year positions. Board members who terms expire are Tina Graef and Gina Smith.