School Board News: Board saves honors classes, cuts remedial offerings
By Jim Hagerty
After weeks of parent backlash, community input and a string of marathon school board meetings, the Rockford Board of Education restored high school honors courses for the 2011-2012 school year Tuesday, Dec. 14.
The board agreed with recommendations from the Education Committee to restore honors classes with the district’s budget and the administration’s goal of managing classes more effectively in mind.
Honors and publications courses will be offered; however, each course must have at least 29 or 30 students to be taught. Classes must be at least 90 percent full.
While some classes will remain, others will be modified or combined with other courses. Branch publications courses may need to be consolidated to meet the new 90 percent enrollment requirement, Board President David Kelley said.
“The 90 percent will determine what survives,” said Kelley.
While honors and publications courses will remain next year, remedial courses will not. Bob Evans, chairman of the Education Committee, said remedial courses are not benefiting struggling students.
Instead, the board agreed students who need extra help should be offered one-on-one or small group tutoring to hone in on their individual skills and learning styles.
Tracy Stevenson-Olson, executive director of curriculum and instruction, agreed.
“We want to offer a better intervention to students,” Stevenson-Olson said.
Julie West, the district’s director of Response and Intervention, will be the go-to administrator in determining a plan of action to assist deficient students.
District 205 Chief Financial Officer Cedric Lewis sat in for Superintendent Dr. LaVonne M. Sheffield Tuesday, who was away on family business.
Lewis reported that the district has received a $4.3 million payment from the state of Illinois. The payment will help reduce the district’s deficit from $41 million to approximately $26 million for the 2010 fiscal year.
The board did not vote on Dr. Sheffield’s goals. Kelley said they were pulled from the agenda because the goals have not yet been mutually agreed upon.
The Rockford Board of Education meets each Tuesday evening, at the District 205 Administration Building, 201 S. Madison St., downtown.
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