December 19, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 35

Cheney board approves agreement with District 81

The Cheney School Board approved an inter-district cooperative agreement with Spokane School District 81 for the operation of the Newtech Skill Center in Spokane at its last meeting of the year, Dec. 11.

The agreement is a consortium of nine other area school districts, including Medical Lake, that agree to provide “quality career and technical education in several career areas and to enable students to select courses from a comprehensive career and technical curriculum,” according to contract language.

Newtech director Will Sarett told the school board 39 Cheney School District students are currently enrolled at the skill center, and the center is experiencing a steady rise in enrollment overall.

The center is open to local public and private school students ages 16-20 that have not earned a high school diploma, as well as home school students registered with their local school district and students who have earned at least six credits prior to applying at the center. The center, located in the Hillyard Neighborhood, is one of 15 in Washington, and offers 18 programs including automotive technology, criminal justice, entrepreneurship, multimedia graphics and print production and veterinary careers.

Sarett said the center has goals in three areas where students must demonstrate proficiency in before leaving – social skills for the 21st century, academic knowledge that would enable them to attend post-secondary institutions and a technical certification in their chosen program.

“It’s a lofty goal but I think we can reach it by 2015,” Sarett said.

The school board also received a report from home-based instruction administrator Shannon Lawson on the district’s Home Works! Program. The program currently has 72 students enrolled overall, representing 40 families, an increase of one student but decrease of three families from last year, while six students that declared home school status last year have returned to the district with full-time enrollment status in 2013-2014.

“That’s consistent with past trends,” Lawson said.

In her report, Lawson wrote that she works closely with Home Works! parents to make sure they are aware that there is a difference between home-based status and membership in an alternative learning environment like Home Works!

As part of related but separate report, Home Works! students Olivia Andrews, Kady Cullen, Noah Jackson and Lauryn Woller shared a poem they had written about their new location at the school’s Andrus Road site, with the board also viewing a music video produced by Home Works! students. Home Works! moved to the former U.S. Air Force communications site from its former location at the Fisher Building in Cheney, with remodel work completed this fall.

Finance and Operations Executive Director Kassidy Probert reported to the board that district enrollment continued to increase in November, with a headcount of 4,212 – up nine students – and full-time equivalent enrollment of 4,048.80, an increase of 3.70 FTEs over October figures. Probert said they typically see a downward slope at this time of year.

“We continue to see a steady increase month by month,” he said. “We’re now above budget by 62 FTEs.”

The board also held the second reading and adoption of policy and procedure for high school graduation requirements and policy for equivalency credit for career and technical education. Besides the agreement with Newtech, the board also approved the district’s school improvement plans.

Finally, the board elected Director Rick Mount as board president, with Director Henry Brown receiving the nod for vice president.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

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