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Nevis eyes early childhood school

A "school within a school" is in the evolutionary stage in Nevis and plans for a new early childhood building have gained "priority" status.

Nevis School Board members reviewed strategic plans drafted by superintendent Steve Rassier and principal John Strom addressing curriculum, staff development, building and maintenance, technology, public relations and a middle "school within a school" concept.

The revised plans are in the "infant stage," Rassier said Monday night. "We see this as just the first step in developing short- and long-range plans for the district," he said, advocating review by the board, staff and community.

The middle school concept is a widely accepted philosophical/organization plan unique and specific for the educational issues of the 11- to 13-year-old age group, the draft states.

"The early adolescent child is a special person, needing an educational setting different from our existing K-6 and 7-12 educational structure," the draft explains.

"I'm opposed to theoretical plans," Strom told the board. "I want them to actually do something."

The draft calls for creating a cadre of middle school staff members who are trained to deal with students as they transition from elementary to high school.

Strom also indicated he is working on a personal safety curriculum, including dating protocol, by this summer.

Although he hears 80 percent of students suffer from bullying, he receives, on average, a single complaint per week, he told the board.

Work will begin on creating a building and finance plan for a pre-school to be attached to the existing structure, the proposal states.

"This should be part of the main campus," Rassier said of the early childhood building.

Among other highlights of the draft are increasing the number of college level courses available to juniors and seniors.

A comprehensive building security plan is in the works, with enhanced video surveillance and a universal lock system.

Plans call for establishing a summer institute for staff to provide training in curriculum, use of technology, classroom management and communicating relevant data to parents, students and the community.

Installing Smart boards in every classroom is on the docket as is a K-12 technology plan that provides all students with a personal technology device.

And public relations - to enhance "community ownership and involvement" - is also addressed in the plan.

A new school Web site, developed by Amy Schroeder and her Web design students, will soon debut, the team reportedly doing a "remarkable job" in creating it.

The class was made up of nine sophomores - Ellen Albright, Casey Dalton, Kate Dierkhising, Riley Hanson, Amanda Hass, Joe Hirsch, Mikayla Magnuson, Missy Rice, and Kasey Sauser.

They examined websites and brainstormed designs and layouts to engineer the site, soon to be uploaded.

In other action, the board:

Reviewed Strom's recommendations for room and scheduling changes for 2011-12.

He is recommending Galvin Gunn moving to Ed Heltunen's room so the sixth grades are side by side.

Heltunen is moving to the FACS room, "but that may not be permanent."

The elementary computer lab is being converted to a high school Spanish classroom. The lab will move to Gunn's room "to eliminate traffic" issues.

Bud Kading's office will be moving to space occupied by Katrina Carrier, who will return to her former office.

Proposed scheduling changes are health to be offered in 8th and 10th grade (currently 8th and 9th) and industrial tech to be an option in 7th and 9th grades.

Physical education will be mandatory from K-10 grades.

Anatomy/physiology will be added as a science elective.

Accounting will be offered and several online college classes will be available.

Other "items of interest" include 6th graders joining 7th and 8th graders for lunch. Para-professionals will supervise elementary lunch to increase class time. And elementary schedules will be aligned with the high school, this year offset by five minutes.