The many changes in governing positions have ushered in a new leadership era for Blaine County School District. Former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Steve Guthrie, was voted out May 2013. Vice-Chair, Don Nurge, resigned soon thereafter. Former Superintendent, Lonnie Barber, signed a Separation Agreement in September 2013—the Trustees sited “differences in leadership style.” Guthrie’s successor as Chairman, Paul Bates, resigned last week because minors had been drinking alcohol in his home on New Year’s Eve.
Our current Board of Trustees demonstrated decisive action when responding to the recent social hosting event at former Chairman Paul Bates’ home. Continue reading →
What if the District put its attention into the classroom action instead of the courtroom action?
The District did confirm the other day that a second, California-based law firm has been engaged for the McKinstry legal case. That firm was paid approximately $50,000 this month, according to the Board’s Consent Agenda. This was on top of the $50,000 paid to the highly-regarded Greener law firm in Boise, who represents the District in the matter.
That’s over $100,000 for a single month’s legal work. What would $100,000 A MONTH buy the Blaine County School District if it were focused on work in the classroom, rather than the courtroom?
At the Trustees’ meeting the other night, Mr. Nurge was critical of certain members of the community, claiming they’d characterized the academic results as “dismal”. To put the record straight, let’s be clear that the SAT scores for BCSD, as posted in the April 2012 State Test Day results, are very, well, average. In a couple of areas they were a few points below average, in one a couple of points above. Not horrific, not dismal. Just pretty much average.
However, this is certainly not what you’d expect from a district that describes itself as “world class”, “among the Top 5 in the region”, “best in the state”. And, definitely not what you’d expect from a district that spends 2-3X more per student than those districts that ARE the best in the state.
The mediocrity of the test scores doesn’t really stem from having a lot of low-scoring test takers, either. No one’s “dragging down the test scores” as a certain highly-placed BCSD administrator implied to me last year. In fact, BCSD does a wonderful job with less academically-capable kids and we have far fewer low scores than the statistics would suggest.
The problem, which I’ve tried over the last several years to explain to the head statistician and to the superintendent, is that we don’t have a lot of high-scoring test-takers either. In fact, we have far fewer than the statistics say we should have.
For example, in the 2012 Test Day results for the Math Section of the SAT here’s an eye-opener:
Shoshone High School had 13 kids take the SAT in April 2012. Two of those kids scored over 700. (800 is perfect and anything over 700 is epic-good. Those students in Shoshone did an awesome job and should be congratulated!)By contrast, the statistics say WRHS should have had 6 or 7 score up in that high bracket, but in fact we had no kids break north of 700 in Math.
Think about that a second. Shoshone’s got less than 10% of the student population but still had two kids up in the highest score bracket. We spend 30X more on our schools and no one topped the chart? Why is that?
Here is the link to the State Department of Education’s Score Report. It’s a fascinating read, if you have the time:
No statistics were harmed in any way in the formation of this post.