New Bremen Tweaks Policies

NEW BREMEN — In an effort to separate discipline and academics, the New Bremen Board of Education approved a list of changes in the school’s policies Wednesday night at its monthly meeting.

Several policies were updated to reflect the goal of separating the two. The first changed the school suspension grade policy.

“We want that separation of discipline and academics,” Superintendent Howard Overman said. “In talking to the staff, a zero is almost impossible to bring it (a student’s overall grade) back up.”

Instead of automatically receiving a zero for missed work, students will still have to do the work and can earn up to a 64 percent.

“We’re going to go with the highest F you can get, which is a 64 percent, for turning in your materials,” he said, noting a 64 percent would be awarded to work that would have earned 100 percent had the student not been serving a suspension. “That’s 64 percent of any grade that you would get.”

Board Member Keith Bornhost voiced his approval of the changes.

“I think it’s a good idea to shift that grade from a zero to a 64 percent because it gives the kid a chance,” he said.

Board members also removed the policy stating that students would fail a class after missing 10 days per semester.

“We took that out, and now we send letters and we call truancy officers,” Overman said. “Again, it’s separating the discipline and the achievement.”

The advanced placement grading scale was also adjusted.

“The kids actually figured out that if they weighted it, it actually hurt them in the long run instead of keeping it at a four-point scale,” Overman said.

Treasurer Deb Meyer noted the change reflects what is already in the handbook.

“We took board action on that when we started our advanced placement classes and we’ve had it in the handbook correctly ever since, but for some reason we never put it in the policy,” she said.

The cheating policy was also updated, and students will now do an equivalent assignment or assessment, in addition to disciplinary action, instead of taking a zero.

“A lot of times on the first and second offense, they took zeros on it,” Overman said. “We took the zeros out of there. They will start with a detention, they will do an equivalent assessment or assignment and parent contact. The second time, the administrator gets involved, contact the parent, three day in-school suspension and, again, redo it (the assessment or assignment). A lot of times they don’t want to do it, and that’s why they cheated in the first place. They’re going to do it, that’s the key.”

Board members met in executive session to discuss appointment or evaluation, and no action was taken when board members reconvened in regular session.

In other business, board members:

• Heard a presentation from students in Nita McKinney’s class who have recently completed research projects on the Olympics. The students used four different types of technology, including PowerPoint, iPads, Glogster and Prezi, for their presentation. McKinney noted that in addition to learning the technology, the students were able to work on their oral presentation skills and their writing skills.

• In her report to the board, Elementary Principal Diane Kramer noted the diagnostic assessments for students in kindergarten through third grade were recently completed. The assessments were required for the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, and based on the assessment, students were identified as on track or not on track. One first-grade student, three second-grade students and five third-grade students were identified as not on track, and steps are being taken to get those students the instruction they need.

• Approved the five-year forecast.

• Accepted a donation from Platinum Auto Group for $500 to purchase an iPad as a prize for a high school student who is entered in a drawing for answering questions correctly each week in the Learning Lab.

• Approved a recommendation to update the cost of renting area of the high school and elementary/middle school. The cost has not been updated in approximately 10 years.

• Reviewed the results of the district report card. The district was rated Excellent and met its expected gain for Value Added.

The next regular meeting of the New Bremen Board of Education will be held at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14.