Reducing school dropouts: Toso forming board with agencies to address attendance in JPSOn Monday the Jamestown Public School Board heard plans for a new board that will be formed with the intended effect of reducing dropout numbers. Superintendent Bob Toso has been working for more than two years on the School Attendance Review Board, which will include community agencies to better address attendance issues.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
On Monday the Jamestown Public School Board heard plans for a new board that will be formed with the intended effect of reducing dropout numbers.
Superintendent Bob Toso has been working for more than two years on the School Attendance Review Board, which will include community agencies to better address attendance issues.
SARB, which will be implemented in the fall, includes officials involved in juvenile court, Stutsman County Social Services, South Central Human Services, Central Valley Public Health and Jamestown Public Schools.
Toso said it’s a five-tier program. The first four tiers will be handled by the district with other community resources being called into the situation as unexcused absences become an increasing problem.
“When we get to a situation where a student is struggling to get to school, we got all the community agencies together,” Toso said, in support of community agencies involvement in SARB.
Tier one would be for students who have five unexcused absences which is a fairly common occurrence over the course of the school year, he said. At this stage the principal would talk to guidance counselors to find out why the student has been missing school.
As unexcused absences mount, the district would become more involved. Tier three is for 10 or more unexcused absences. At this point the district would have notified the parents multiple times to find why their child is not in school.
If the problem is not resolved after tier four, other agencies outside the district would get involved.
It’s those other agencies’ involvement that Stutsman County State’s Attorney Fritz Fremgen said would work the best when the district failed to remedy the situation.
“This is meant more for the chronic absentees and there is some discretion,” Fremgen said. “We want everyone to be in school every day, and that’s what we want to stress here is how important attendance is.”
Studies have shown those students likely to miss school at younger levels will be more prone to dropping out later when they get to the high school level.
For the 2010-2011 school year, Jamestown High School had a graduation rate of 85.64 percent, which is calculated based on the number of graduates each year compared to the number of dropouts.
For other cities that year, the rate ranged from 83.85 percent in Grand Forks to 91.53 percent in Wahpeton. Statewide, the rate was 86.2 percent for all students.
The most readily available numbers for the 2011-2012 school year show that 19 students dropped out during the first semester. Ten of those students went on to pursue GED certificates.
In other news, the board formally accepted a letter of resignation from David Saxberg, director of elementary education and principal at Washington Elementary School. He accepted a position at Will-Moore Elementary in Bismarck.
“Believe me, as much as everybody here on the board is going to miss Dave, you can’t imagine what Sally (Ost, business manager) and I are wondering what we’re going to do,” Toso said. “He does wear a lot of hats.”
Saxberg has been a valuable asset to the district with his work on federal programs, Toso said. In addition to Title 1 and Title 2 programs, which have a budget of about $1 million, Saxberg also manages professional development and curriculum.
“This is something I’ve been thinking about really, ever since I got a call from the Bismarck superintendent who talked about how much they like Dave,” Toso said.
While no formal motion was made, other than the approval of Saxberg’s letter of resignation, the board talked about ways to fill the gaps Saxberg will leave when he relocates to Bismarck.
Toso recommended having one principal work in two elementary schools next year, and then hire a central office staff member to work on Saxberg’s other duties.
Additional duties that will be needed in the future include cooperation with the North Dakota Council of Educational leaders on administration of a multimillion dollar grant with part coming to Jamestown, as well as the implementation of the new common core standards.
Toso said the priority should be filling Saxberg’s shoes the best the district can.
“The savings of the dollars is secondary, it’s getting the jobs done, that’s most important,” he said.
In other news, the School Board said goodbye to someone who has spent more than 20 years as the administrative assistant.
Becky Baumbach has served has an aide for School Board members and others who needed information from the district.
“I purchased a cake for a beautiful lady retiring soon,” said Gary Peterson, board member. “Becky has been there for me anytime I needed someone to help me with something — anytime I needed some information.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com