Unified high schools to participate in supportive school project

The Kenosha Unified School District will participate in the Wisconsin Safe and Supportive School Project.

Dan Tenuta, assistant superintendent of secondary school leadership, reviewed the request at the School Board meeting Tuesday evening.

The Department of Public Instruction  is carrying out a four-year project, from Oct. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2014, to improve conditions for learning in the 19 school districts that were selected due to numbers and/or rates of disruptive drug and violence-related incidents. KUSD is one of the 19 school districts selected.

Participating school districts will receive significant support from DPI in the form of funding to be used for professional development and technical assistance, Tenuta explained. The original grant amount is $100,000. The selected high schools will first be required to complete a thorough needs assessment, which will include analysis of data on school incidents of student misbehavior, student self-reported risk behaviors related to drug use and violence, student engagement, and school environments. This needs assessment will use the Wisconsin Online Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The survey will be administered to 9th and 11th grade students at the following local high schools: Tremper, Bradford, Indian Trail, Lakeview Technology Academy, Reuther Central and Harborside Academy. The approved district protocol for conducting the YRBS Survey will be followed, as in the past.

Boad member Gilbert Ostman said he had an issue with the grant not being renewable, but this is a four-year project. His concern was that the grant may run out of money half way through the grant term. He felt that in these “disastrous economic times,” that it was the wrong thing to do. He stated that he would not be supporting this.

Board member Jo Ann Taube said she felt that this was a Federal grant and wouldn’t be cut like the funding from the state. “Every community has drug and alcohol problems. These problems are not going away,” Taube said. She stated that she would be supporting this.

Board member Pam Stevens said she had an issue with the passive parental permission forms.  Tenuta stated that the survey would be available at all the schools, and also that the survey was completely voluntary, anonymous, and that there would be no infringement on personal concerns. He stated that there would be good information that would come out of this project.

Superintendent Michelle Hancock agreed. This project would provide funding to provide training for staff improvement, she said.

Board member Carl Bryan expressed his concern that the students wouldn’t be honest in providing their answers.  Ostman thought that there might be some overlap in teacher training. “Are the teachers over-trained? Is this overkill?” Ostman asked.  Tenuta didn’t think so.

Board President Mary Snyder said “we can’t fix problems we don’t understand.” This project will help the district get factual information to use to help kids, she added.

The request to participate in the program was approved by a vote of 4 to 2, with Pam Stevens and Ostman voting against.

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