While a construction of a new public library gets underway in Petersburg this year, the library at Petersburg High School is also getting a major face lift this summer. Members of the school board Tuesday heard an update on that project and reviewed the results of a district survey.
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School staffers are doing the renovation work on the high school and middle school library this summer. The district has budgeted 60-thousand dollars for the project. During a radio call in show Tuesday, school superintendent Rob Thomason said the library was originally designed to accommodate larger shelves and more books.
“With the move toward digital learning and digital content, we are retrofitting the library to better handle our digital needs with things called green rooms where kids can make demonstration videos. We are getting rid of or surplussing as you said the really tall bookshelves,” Thomason said. “We’re going to be bringing in some much lower shelves about two thirds the height and they’re going to be on wheels so you can reconfigure the library anytime anyway to accommodate any meeting. We have weeded, what they call in library talk, weeded out about a third of the books that hadn’t been checked out in the last 20 years. So we’re excited about the paint colors, the new shades, new carpet, new furniture, new internet connections in there for the kids to be able, and adults, to use. It’s going to be a very exciting library,” he said.
The school board Tuesday approved the sale of old bookshelves and chairs. A giveaway of the obsolete books should happen sometime in August.
Also Tuesday, the board briefly discussed the results of an annual online survey. It asked parents and community members for their opinions about the three schools and the district as a whole. About 30-40 people completed each of the various survey sections and also submitted specific comments. Thomason told the board members that administrators and staff use the survey results.
“We get both positive comments and comments of concern. And just so that people know, we do read every single one of them,” he said. “This is all shared with the staff, it’s shared with the administrators. We discuss it and we try to develop some goals based on them. Now we can’t take one comment and make that a districtwide goal. We try to match the comments up with what the numbers are telling us of the respondents.”
Parents and community members commented on bullying in the schools, and concern over equal application of disciplinary measures for students getting in trouble while on sports or other activity trips out of town, among other concerns. Thomason says he’d like to double the return rate for the annual survey. The district plans to post the survey results on its website this summer.
Speaking of the district website, it’s also getting renovated this summer. The schools are switching to a format that allows individual teachers and administrators to post information, instead of sending it to a single website administrator. The new site is up and running at www.pcsd.us and will be updated throughout the summer.
The school district is implementing a new program to standardize expectations for student behavior across the three schools. The program is called Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports and will be used to train all employees and contracted workers with the district. Dean of students and activity director Jaime Cabral received training for the program and discussed it with the board.
“And what they want us to do is basically get identical districtwide, so that everyone is in the know and they learn it back when they’re in kindergarten what the expectations are throughout the whole tenure of their years at the school district,” Cabral said. “So, we are adapting our policies so they are aligned equally.”
The program covers expected behaviors for students for everything from riding the bus, to eating in the school to using the bathroom and walking between classrooms. Training for district employees will happen later this summer.
The board also approved the hiring of several new staff members, including a new middle school education teacher and an alternative teacher. Superintendent Thomason explained how the alternative school works during Tuesday’s radio call in show.
“If a youngster is just not making it in the main school, what else can we do besides send them home and provide like maybe one hour a week with a tutor. We’re going to have an offsite facility. It will be a partial day program. It’ll qualify, it’ll help kids stay in school in terms of move toward graduation,” Thomason said. “It’s really a dropout prevention program for high school kids and it’s a get connected with school program for middle school youngsters,” he added.
Thomason said alternative school had capacity for no more than 15 students but expected between five and seven kids next school year. The district is exploring different options for a location for alternative school.
In other decisions, the board approved an agreement for the Petersburg Childrens Center to continue using an elementary school classroom for an afterschool and summertime kids care program. Board members John Bringhurst and Jim Schwartz did not attend the meeting, while Dawn Ware participated by telephone from out of state.