District continues making policy updates

Payette School District Superintendent Robin Gilbert, left, discusses agenda items with the Board of Trustees as Trustee Terrie Cathcart-Shurte listens. The District is in the process of updating its policy manual, which is estimated to take up to three years to complete.

PAYETTE - At its regular meeting on July 13, the Payette School District Board of Trustees approved updates to 15 policies contained in the district’s policy manual.

Changes to policies are continuous throughout the year but these specific changes are based on local needs, according to Board Clerk Barbara Choate.

The district is currently working on its 2000 section of policies, which pertain to academic achievement. The policies are intended to “stimulate intellectual curiosity and growth,” “develop a base of fundamental skills for lifelong learning,” and “provide fundamental career concepts and skills” among other goals, according to the goals section of the latest updates.

“Our current policies are in an older format and more global in nature rather than specific to certain situations,” wrote Choate in an email on July 21. “The Board of Trustees chose to purchase policies that have already been vetted by attorneys to confirm compliance with Idaho Code.”

This time around, policy changes include:

• Curriculum development and assessment: Staff and administration suggest materials and resources, including textbooks, for District approval. Update includes wording to include applicable standards in consideration of materials.

•  Lesson plans: Update requires plans to be ready by the end of the week prior to instruction and requirement now includes standards addressed to be noted.

•  Evaluation/Diagnostic tests: Policy addresses efficacy and efficiency of instruction, while seeking to protect students’ rights to personal beliefs and practices

• Reading intervention: Students in kindergarten through third grade found to be deficient in reading upon statewide assessment shall receive individual reading improvement plans.

• Copyright: Staff are expected to make sure materials used in the classroom are not illegally copied, making sure their use qualifies under “Fair use” doctrine if necessary.

• Computer science: Effective for Fiscal Year 2020, all high-schoolers will have a chance to take at least one computer science class during school hours, whichever campus they are enrolled at.

• School calendar: This policy was updated to include Labor Day as a school holiday According to Choate, “Because Labor day is and always has been a recognized holiday at the Payette School District,” their policy was updated to reflect this.

• School closures: If weather, facility failures or other emergencies warrant closure, the superintendent may make that call.

• Pre-kindergarten programs: The district’s pre-kindergarten program is intended to provide these students experiences that area nursery schools cannot. If the district can’t offer this to all four year olds, it will offer this to those in greatest need.

Choate said the district is still in the early stages of revising its entire manual, which is made up of nine sections.

“The board has currently adopted all of the first section and is half way through the second section,” said Choate. “We expect this to be a two to three year project.”

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