Granby " East Grand schools look to enhance programs for gifted students |

Granby " East Grand schools look to enhance programs for gifted students

What the schools should do to help exceptionally bright students was a main topic of discussion at the East Grand Board of Education’s meeting Tuesday night.

Much of that discussion centered on the report about the Gifted/Talented program by a subcommittee of the District Accountability Committee. It made a number of recommendations for improving the assistance given to the exceptional students in the district’s schools.

In the DAC subcommittee’s report, it stated the district currently serves 75 students or 9 percent of its enrollment in grades 3 to 11 who are considered Gifted and Talented (GT) students. These students were identified based upon their IQ scores.

At present, the program offers only limited “pull-out” classes for those students where they are taken out of their regular classes to receive more advanced or challenging instruction. Most of the budget for these programs goes into teacher salaries.

The subcommittee’s report also noted that GT students are “at higher risk for dropping out due to anxiety, depression and suicide” than many other students.

Currently, the district has 16 GT students who are “considered ‘at risk’ based on grades, behavior and attitude history.”

The DAC subcommittee made several recommendations for improving the district’s GT program to include:

– Hiring a Director of Student Achievement to oversee, organize and find resources for the GT program.

– Designating full-time GT teachers who would rotate weekly through all three elementary schools to teach classes, train other teachers in GT curriculum and help develop advanced learning plans for individual students.

– Selecting one teacher per school to serve as a GT Advisor to conduct “pull-out” classes and work with individual students or groups on academic-based and interest-based projects.

– Requiring school counselors and the district psychologist to meet with GT students on a periodic basis.

Superintendent Robb Rankin commended the work of the subcommittee’s members ” Barbara Ahrens, Lucinda Carpter, Cheryl Harrison, Katrina Larson, Tina Steinberg, Frank Giardino, Karen Waeschk, Missy Wengert and Darrell Woods.

Rankin said he agreed with much of the subcommittee’s evaluation and recommendations. He said work on a draft budget for next school year is about to begin and that he will try to find funding for the GT staffing recommendations.

In a closely related matter at Tuesday’s meeting, the school board considered the request by two Fraser Valley parents for the district to grant a waiver to allow their daughter to enter kindergarten next fall.

The couple’s child, who is considered to be gifted by her preschool teachers, will not meet the district’s Entrance Age Requirements that require kindergartners to be 5 years old “on or before September 30.”

In mulling over the request, Rankin said that waiving the requirement “could be beneficial” for “truly gifted kids” such as this child. However, he cautioned that if the district does waive that rule, it “might open Pandora’s box,” with the district being flooded with other waiver requests. Despite that, he said it is “maybe a box worth opening.”

School board President Tom Sifers said he was also worried about “opening a can of worms” by granting such a waiver, but directed Rankin to bring back a recommendation to the board.

In another matter at Tuesday’s meeting, the board was informed that student fees would remain unchanged for next school year with the exceptions of charging a summer weight room fee and increasing the fee for field trips.

The board also approved some employment decisions. It accepted the resignation of Steven Broshous as the high school’s automotive/welding teacher. Approval was given for Monica Fuqua to become the district office’s new receptionist while Jeanne Jackson was hired to become the high school’s counselors secretary.

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