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District 81 Evaluates Progress Saturday School, Summer Academy On The Drawing Board

A Saturday school and a summer academy for advanced-level science and math students are on the drawing board in Spokane School District 81.

District officials mentioned the ideas to the school board Wednesday while discussing progress toward nine goals set last year.

Officials didn’t give details on how the Saturday school or summer academy might operate.

The nine goals include safer schools, higher expectations for students, more collaboration with the community and the hiring of a qualified and racially diverse staff.

When board member Nancy Fike asked if the board had given district employees too big a task, Superintendent Gary Livingston leaned toward his microphone and replied forcefully: “Critics of public education are out there. If we don’t accomplish these things in an aggressive manner, maybe they’re right.”

Among steps toward the goals:

Developing guidelines to screen for racial and gender bias in new school materials;

Hiring security officers for the high schools; and

Renegotiating contracts so the district can hire staff in June instead of late August, allowing the district to snap up minority candidates before they take jobs elsewhere.

This school year, the district will make staff evaluation a top priority by providing training to principals.

To increase communication, the district is working with Kinko’s copying centers on a plan to have district documents available in a file for copying. Area hospitals have agreed to distribute district information to new parents.

One idea, however, didn’t get very far, Livingston said.

A non-profit foundation to solicit donations to benefit the school district stalled because potential leaders were too deeply committed to promoting a science center in Riverfront Park. That idea may be renewed, Livingston said.

In other action, the board approved Pamela Place to represent Planned Parenthood on the district’s sex education citizens advisory committee.

The board also gave a green light to negotiating a contract of not more than $156,000 with consultant Joe Chrastil of Spokane.

Chrastil would help 14 elementary schools set up parent advisory committees. In an unusual step to speed up the process of hiring Chrastil, the board agreed that two board members could review and approve the contract later on behalf of the board.

, DataTimes

Tags: education

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