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School Board Dennis Kaiser | Fri, Nov 06 2009 11:15 AM

Los Alamitos Unified School District’s Board of Education received an earful Oct. 27 in the form of a number of reports and updates on how the school year was going.

Megan Cray, a senior at Los Alamitos High, spoke of her participation in a youth leadership forum for students with disabilities. Cray traveled to Sacramento for the five-day conference, which hoped to develop belief of the future by helping participants develop an appreciation of their past. Cray said the forum was developed to help cut into today’s numbers of disabled people that are unemployed. Cray said 70-percent of disabled people are unemployed presently.

An assisted technology fair and a tour of the state capital were highlights of the trip, Cray said. The chance to meet with lawmakers and officials to discuss the role of the disabled gave them insight as to what disabled people go through every day.

“I can do everything an able person can do. It’s just at a different pace,” Cray said.

Board President David Boyer presented Cray with an award and thanked her for representing her campus well.

Andrew Ulmen of Rachlin Architects said the renovation project at McGaugh Elementary is in the sixth and final phase, which should be completed later this year. Much of the finishing work is being completed with roofing at 75 percent finished and window installation on the area about half completed.

In the school’s auditorium, a new concrete slab has been poured with plumbing complete and wall framing being started, Ulmen said.
Two school principals had the opportunities to talk about their campuses. Lee Elementary Principal Andrew Pulver said his students’ overall Academic Performance Index score went up 21 points over the 2008 score to 918. Increased scores in the school’s different subgroups was seen as well.

Teachers are working on improving reading development, writing strategies and math reasoning this year, Pulver explained. “We’re trying to focus on continuous improvement and growth within each Lee Leopard,” Pulver said.

Pulver praised the job of his students’ parents and thanked them for their work in and around campus. “We have a philosophy of parents being educational partners with us because excellence never rests and neither do our parents,” Pulver said.

Pulver started a learning team concept at the school this year with teams of teachers learning more about different concepts such as CGI, a math concept program, Writer’s Workshop and others. The teachers then bring back the concepts they learned to professional development meetings.

“We are always in a need to learn to perfect our craft,” Pulver said.

Oak Middle School Principal Sally Neiser also reported increases in the school’s overall API score going from 871 in 2008 to 877 in 2009. The school’s subgroups saw increases as well, most notably the socioeconomic disadvantaged group which increased 41 points to 802. Establishing formal and informal peer groups to study and work on concepts helped, Neiser said.

Assistant Principal Michael Conlon spoke of a number of support systems students have to build their academics including academic labs for sixth graders, which target at risk students and help them stay on task. A study skills curriculum for sixth graders helps them adapt to the world of middle school and what is expected.

The Academic Improvement Management System, or AIMS, program gives students a chance to work on assignments during their lunch period in a chance to get caught up, Conlon said.

Oak has a number of student recognition programs, which helps keep them connected to the school. Studies have shown that students who are connected and involved tend to do better in school.

Some events coming up at the school include the vocal music department’s performance of “Guys and Dolls” Nov. 12-14, Clothes the Deal, a clothing drive Nov. 18 and eighth grade career day Nov. 20.

The board also approved the first reading of a policy allowing students to take part in surveys. Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Sherry Kropp said the district will be taking part in the California Healthy Kids Survey next spring.

The California Department of Education requires districts to have a policy concerning administering surveys to students, Kropp said. The district already has a policy regarding community participation in surveys, but not student participation.

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