2009-11-29 / News

Early intervention key to help students

By Jeanne Marcello Staff Reporter

MONTROSE – Carter Elementary School Principal Pete Carey and Dean of Students Rhonda Barber presented a tagteam report about the elementary school’s administrative structure and new early intervention program to the Montrose Community Schools Curriculum and Technology Committee on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

Carey stated, “We’ve had the opportunity in the last few months to develop teamwork in a way that is beneficial to kids.”

He presented data listing the school has having 575 students, 42 teachers and 35 support staff personnel. The school serves 325 families in Montrose and the surrounding area, he continued.

Carey and Barber each listed their responsibilities. Carey’s list of responsibilities include supervising school curriculum, pursuit of grant opportunities, overseeing all personnel, Parent Teacher Organization and community relations, and finance, which includes developing and implementing the budget.

Barber’s duties include a half-day of teaching K-2. It gives her an opportunity to work with students and identify those who are struggling with reading and writing. Another key area Barber oversees is attendance, which is more complicated than one might think. She described the process of handling attendance issues from monitoring and informing parents to referring families to the county when absence becomes excessive.

Carey explained that typically the dean of students is responsible for all of the discipline in a school. However, he felt that this would not be a wise use of Barber’s teaching skills and experience. As a result, Carey handles 70 percent of the discipline issues in the school. Barber handles 30 percent. His approach is one of positive behavior support.

“We are significantly disproportionate,” Carey said, explaining that the school has a higher percentage of students in special education. “But we have mitigating circumstances,” he continued, explaining that 57 percent of the children are in the free or reduced lunch program. “The philosophy of this district is we help all kids.”

Superintendent Mark Kleinhans mentioned that a number of “our kids” have been identified as having ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

School Board Trustee Ron Loafman stated, “You’re talking about students who are behind. We’ve tried to use every dime in the budget to help every student.”

According to Carey, last year 4.4 percent of the students in Carter were in special education. “It needs to be 2.5 percent,” he said.

“There is a 1:1 relation with student misbehavior and those who can’t read,” Carey reported, adding, “We have four master teachers working with our most needy kids.”

Barber talked about using the Michigan Integrated Behavior and Learning System Initiative response to intervention. She told committee members that 80 to 90 percent of students should get what they need in the class- room. However, 45 percent of Carter students are in Title One. “It should be 20 percent,” Barber said.

“The goal needs to be every student reading by third grade,” Barber concluded.

As the presentation concluded, Kleinhans stated, “This, from a building that consistently scores high on MEAP tests.”

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