June 20, 2008

Board Approves New Reading Materials

By Chris Manning, The Daily Review, Towanda, Pa.

Jun. 20--WAVERLY -- The Waverly School Board Thursday approved the purchase of new reading materials for kindergarten through second grade as part of the federal Response to Intervention (RTI) mandate.

Assistant Superintendent Kim Hollister, teachers Melinda Houser, Donna Saylor, Elaine Stoback, and principals Anne Bernard and John MaGuire were on hand to give the presentation on the mandate and what Waverly was doing to meet the criteria.

Hollister began the presentation by saying that RTI was mandated by the federal government and state schools must provide assistance early to kids that struggle instead of waiting until the problems pile up. The mandate is for general education children but is regulated by special education, according to Hollister. She said the focus is on reading, but also deals with math, behavior, and science. Hollister also said they have received a memo from the New York state government indicating that RTI must be in place by 2012. Also, if they do not meet the criteria of the mandate, she said, they would not be able to grade students the way they currently do.

Houser explained that RTI was implemented to keep kids out of special education by intervening at an early age. She described the three tiers behind RTI, with the first tier having the teacher looking at the problem the student is having and working with him or her individually. Houser said in the next tier the teacher would spend more time and frequency with the student on the problem and possibly have extra teachers come in the classroom to help. In the final tier, "intense interaction" would take place with the student on an individual basis. She said RTI would help kids get a better start in reading and keeps children in the classroom as people would be coming in to help instead of the children leaving.

The presentation also included the new reading series that the teachers selected for the students, Reading Street. Hollister said they hadn't updated their reading series since the early 1990s. Teacher Donna Saylor said that she likes Reading Street because it not only helps students but challenges those that needed challenging. Teacher Elaine Stoback said the other option was brand new and that they didn't want to be "guinea pigs" for it. She also mentioned that Reading Street was already eight years old and had an overachievement program. Hollister said that Reading Street was already in over 40 school districts in New York and that some of those school districts saw a 20 percent increase in all the students reading averages. She mentioned the pre-kindergarten is already using this program. Hollister added that Reading Street was created specifically to follow RTI criteria. Principal Ann Bernard said now is "the time to do this."

Also at the meeting the board approved the RAN Renewal Resolution, which has the school borrow 4.5 million dollars to help get through the summer until taxes become available in September and state aide arrives in January. It also approved contracts with DCMO BOCES and Guthrie Clinic LTD Medical Services, which was considered standard procedure.

Board President Jean Barber announced the resignation of James Parente via letter, which the board accepted. The board has yet to decide whether to replace Parente or to continue with only eight members. McMahon said Parente resigned for "personal reasons."


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