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South Tama looks to add second English Language Learner teacher, coding course

December 13, 2017
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

By John Speer


Article Photos

RIGHT- South Tama Schools Superintendent Jeff Berger welcomes the more than 200 area residents attending the annual Project 60 event at the high school on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Berger also offered tours of the new addition and features of the high school following the holiday entertainment and meal.
John Speer

Citing a total of 70 English Language Learner students currently enrolled at South Tama High School coupled with the resignation of the high school ELL aide, Superintendent Jeff Berger recommended adding a second ELL teacher to the high school staff for the second semester and asked for permission to hire one during a special meeting of the South Tama School Board on Monday night, Dec. 4.

He said ELL teachers at the elementary in Tama and middle school in Toledo have 35-45 students and are assisted by an aide.

The ELL enrollment at the high school increased by 13 students for the fall semester Berger said.

Berger was uncertain if a qualified applicant could be found but recommended "floating" the open position to see if any interest is shown.

Questions arose from the board members if an aide would also be sought. They expressed some budget concerns if both an additional teacher and a new aide were both put on the payroll.

Berger said the aide job could be put on hold to await the outcome of the search for an additional teacher. He did admit it, "We have one hard time keeping aide in the ELL position," he said.

Board members approved the possible teacher hiring with members Penny Tyynismaa, Alan Kline, Mandy Lekin and Jackie Dvorak in favor. Board members also voted unanimously to accept the ELL aide resignation of Cheyenne Wurr Olguin. Member Ron Houghton was absent.

New Computer Coding Course

Board members also approved adding a computer coding class at the high school for the second semester. Coding is explained as being "the process of creating software" by the Programming for Beginners website with software being "a set of instructions for a computer to perform...a bit like a cooking recipe."

Berger said Jeffrey Funk, high school business teacher, has a schedule opening and is willing to teach the class. He said an informal survey found 30 students who expressed interest in the class. It will be conducted in the high school computer lab, Berger said.

An overall strategy is under development by STC staff for grades K-12 to create a curriculum in this area. The new coding class "seemed to make sense to the committee" Berger said.

A full report and recommendations is expected by the committee in the spring, Berger told board members.

In other business the board:

approved application to the School Budget Review Committee for $1,510 for River Hills Consortium special education administrative costs.

approved a total of $257,501 in modified supplementary funding for the At Risk / Drop Out Report to the School Budget Review Committee.

approve first reading of board policies which primarily contain modifications or "tweeks" to existing polices on discriminatory harassment, its investigation, incident complaint form, witness form, disposition; anti-bullying, anti-harassment and hazing prohibited, investigation procedures, complaint disposition and distrcit non-discrimination policy and policy and parent and student rights.



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