School year to start in August


€ School will begin on Aug. 30 this fall rather than after Labor Day, and be moved up to Aug. 22 for the 2012-13 school year. The purpose behind moving up the schedule is to conclude the first semester before winter break by 2012-13. Currently, students take first-semester exams after winter break.

€ Assistant Superintendent Debra Moore Washington presented the board with a new definition for the job of health clerk. Health clerks have been used at many schools in the district as stand-ins when nurses could not be there, although most are administrative staff with marginal medical training. An ad hoc committee has been appointed by Superintendent Tim Cuneo to study adding more medical qualifications to the health clerk classification. The board directed staff to report back again at the Feb. 17 meeting with an action item formalizing the qualifications for the job.

€ The board heard a presentation on Response to Intervention (RTI), a program that identifies students at risk of reading and math disabilities by screening K-3 students three times a year. Those students are then given extra instruction to reduce the gap in achievement between their peers. The program also helps prevent misdiagnoses of students in need of special education, where minority students have been historically over-represented. The SMMUSD board is considering whether to implement the program throughout the district, which would mean bringing in RTI experts to train district staff and teachers.

€ A presentation on enrollment projections for 2011-12 was given by Dean Waldfogel of DecisionInsite, a company that specializes in demographic statistics. Waldfogel concluded that SMMUSD demonstrated, overall, a relatively stable enrollment, although he predicted a small decline in the number of kindergarten students next year.