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Creston Schools have eyes on literacy

New early literacy legislation to be fully implemented in August

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 10:53 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 11:42 a.m. CDT

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Creston School District will focus on early literacy during the 2014-15 school year, like all schools across the state of Iowa.

Iowa Legislature passed a provision in 2012 as part of the statewide education reform that requires prekindergarten through third-grade students to be able to read at grade level by the time they go into fourth grade.

The early literacy legislation, which will be implemented in all Iowa school districts no later than Aug. 1, monitors students’ reading efficiency.

Callie Anderson, Creston prekindergarten through second-grade principal, gave an informational report about the legislation to Creston School Board during its regularly scheduled meeting Monday.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions about the early literacy legislation that is being discussed right now,” Anderson said.

Several requirements of the early literacy legislation are:

• A universal reading screening for kindergarten through third-grade students;

• Monitoring of progress for students with a deficiency in reading;

• 90 minutes of daily scientific, research-based reading for students with a reading deficiency;

• Notice to parents of a student’s reading deficiency, and progress of the student’s reading;

• And, summer reading program for students with a reading deficiency.

“When it comes down to it, what it is saying is that they’re requiring a universal screener for kindergarten through third-grade students,” Anderson said. “Now, we have a universal screener that we administer to our kindergarten through third-grade students currently. Now, there has to be a state-approved universal screener.”

A screener is a program or instrument that marks a student’s reading level.

The legislation also requires a set amount of time for students to read with research-based instruction.

“At Creston, we are able to put a big checkmark on that item. That is in place,” said Anderson. “That is what all of the hours of PD (professional development) provide for our teachers, is research-based instruction. And, we have 90 protected minutes in JK (junior kindergarten) through fifth grade.”

The state of Iowa will spend $8 million on the early literacy legislation. Of that amount, half will be split equally to all school districts, while the other half will be passed out to school districts based on number of students.

“We won’t get as much as the bigger schools,” said Anderson, “but, we will get some dollars to recover the cost.”

However, Creston School District will still have to pay for some of the programs to be implemented.

“There may be some funding that needs to be compensated for what the allocations will cover for the screener we end up going with in Creston,” Anderson said.

Costs may also increase for the summer reading program based on the number of students who attend.

More questions will be answered Friday, when information will be available to administrators.

In other Creston School Board news:

• The former Creston administration building sold at auction for $24,500 to a local person. A special meeting is likely to be held to finalize the sale.

• Touch-ups and caulking remain to be done on the Creston Elementary and Middle School safe room. The basketball floor will be bid on in the future. Windows, final painting and touch-ups remain to be done on the Creston High School safe room. The CHS safe room is expected to be fully utilized by spring 2014 mid-semester.

• Creston School Board accepted the resignation of bus driver Roger Benedict. The board members also accepted contracts of paraprofessionals Matthew Rinehart, Amy Wilkins, Teresa Werneburg and Amanda Quinn and cooks Angela Gist and Jodi Mobley.

• School Budget Review Committee allowable growth was passed by all board members. The request included additional money in the amounts of $112,014 for increased enrollment, $1,800 for open enrollment out and $2,693 for limited English proficiency.

• Disbursement of teacher salary supplement money was approved. The money will go to teachers who were formerly under contract and left in good standing. Board member Ron Dunphy was the only member to vote no.

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