By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

School board notes report cards

The district had three elementary schools, Newby, Memorial and Sue Buel, designated as "model schools" by the state for their academic scores and growth. Not only is it the second year in a row McMinnville's had three model schools, but it the second year it had more models than any other district in the state – three of the total 27 model schools statewide.

All three of those schools earned rankings of 5, meaning they are in the top 10 percent of schools statewide. Duniway Middle School also rated 5. The district's other middle and elementary schools rated 4, with a 3 for McMinnville High School.

Superintendent Maryalice Russell noted that the new report cards contain a great deal of data for parents, ranging from enrollment growth to comparisons of local schools' scores with those of the state as a whole and similar districts.

She questioned the seismic rating on the cards, however. She noted that the seismic survey is based on appearance of the buildings, rather than how they were built and updated. And some of the data is incorrect -- McMinnville High School's rating, for instance, is mistakenly based on a school in another district.

On another matter, finance director Susan Escure reported that McMinnville will receive about $1 million more in state funding as a result of the recent special legislative session. The legislature devoted more to schools so they can add teachers and school days and lower class size, she said. The money will come in 2014-15.

Escure also noted that this is the first year since 2009-10 that McMinnville's enrollment has grown. The district currently has 169 more students than projected, with a total of 6,607.

After the meeting, the superintendent noted that the district received confirmation that its application for a federal Race to the Top grant was received, despite the government shutdown.

The shutdown, which ended Thursday, may delay announcement of the grant winners, however. Originally, that was to happen Dec. 1.

The $20 million grant would augment programs for students in pre-kindergarten to grade 12, Russell said.

In other business Monday night:

* School board members and the audience stood and repeated the Hands & Word pledge, "I will not use my hands or my words for hurting myself or others."

Gloria Foltz of Soroptimist International of McMinnville told the board about the history of Hands & Words, which was started by a Salem martial arts teacher in 1997. She wanted to teach people that they have a moral and legal right to live free of abuse and violence, Foltz said.

"Maybe we should send this to Washington," she quipped.

Hands & Words is used internationally. McMinnville School District students say the pledge on a regular basis. McMinnville Soroptimists adopted it as one of their efforts, because it fits with their main goal of bettering the lives of women and girls.

Hands & Words Week is Oct. 20 to 26.

* Sue Buel Elementary School students, Principal Stephanie Legard and librarian Sharon Buehler talked about the myriad ways the school is encouraging students to love reading.

Over the summer, the library was open so students could check out books and pick up books to keep; almost 160 students took advantage of the program, which also offered crafts, yoga and other activities. The school also mailed out free books to more than 100 primary students over the summer.

For students in grades three through five, Buel offers noontime book clubs. About 189 children participated last spring. The school also has a "You read it, you keep it" program funded by a grant; participants can read books, then take them home to share with their families.


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