As we start another school year, I would like to share some good things happening in the district. First, test scores this past spring showed significant improvement. Second, we are implementing restorative justice programs. And third, we are experiencing growth.
Test Scores – Our teachers have been focused the past few years to ensure all students master the most important content in each grade / subject level. This hard work resulted in increasing test scores in most categories across the district. Although one test on one day is not a perfect way to determine student ability, educational opportunities after high school are often determined by high stakes tests. We encourage all students to do their best on state and national assessments to accurately see each student’s ability and each schools’ needs. Student achievement data was sent in the annual mailer or is available online at nsanpete.org.
Restorative Justice – After the Columbine school shooting, “zero tolerance” policies and laws were set-up nationwide. Decades later we have more people incarcerated than many other countries, but violence, even in schools, is still a problem. As a result, juvenile justice reform laws, HB239 (2017) and HB 132 (2018) in Utah are trying to reduce school and youth violence by working with parents and students for minor offenses rather than locking kids up. The NSSD Restorative Justice Plan, as this reform is titled, includes meeting with parents and students, repeatedly if needed; connecting resources to students and families; and working as a team including schools, communities, parents and students, to help students. This does not mean that there will be no suspensions, but suspensions have been shorter in recent years as we realized that time out of school doesn’t solve every problem. Supports may be offered to prevent problems, thus reduce the number of suspensions, and suspensions will most often be tied to supports to help students resolve concerns, thus improve behavior.
Growth – As you likely have noticed, many new homes are being built in our district. Enrollment was fairly stable until the fall of 2017 when enrollment jumped from 2393 (2016) to 2480 (2017). These numbers do not include 60-70 students served from local youth in custody group homes. Incremental growth allowed us to more evenly fill classrooms across the district and improve teacher compensation. Significant jumps, likely in the future, may require additional classrooms and schools, which will be costly. We appreciate your support as a patron of our school district.
Samuel L. Ray, EdD