RANCHO SANTA FE — The R. Roger Rowe School Board was anything but bored Jan. 8 when five students, all competition winners, shared stories they had written at the board’s first meeting of the year. Each of the students stood before the school board and read their winning story aloud while their illustrations were projected onto an overhead screen.
The students were
participants in the Columbia University/Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. After the presentations, Assistant Superintendent Cindy Schaub updated board members on the writing curriculum. “We’re noticing each year that students are more and more sophisticated,” she said. “We’ve learned that when we challenge teachers, it shows. We end up with sophisticated kids.”
The Columbia University Writing Project is a “think tank” to support ongoing staff development using the latest research and materials. All teachers at R. Roger Rowe have been trained and work with staff members from Columbia University. The program is now in its fourth year at the R. Roger Rowe School and Schaub told board members that other schools are starting to notice the level of literary sophistication students have achieved. “Visiting teachers are amazed at how well our students are reading and writing,” Schaub said. “The quality of writing is getting better and better.”
“The kids love to write,” Superintendent Lindy Delaney said. “They’re doing great. And it’s had quite an impact on our teachers.”
School board member Scot Cheatham spoke for others when he said, “We’re so impressed. And it’s good that kids are giving presentations like this. It’s an important skill to learn.”
Later in the meeting, Katy Wright, project manager for Gafcon, updated board members on the progress of the school renovation. “January is a key month,” Wright said. She explained that bids are now coming in for work on the project. “It’s an aggressive marketplace and our timing is terrific. Contractors are hungry. We’ll get a lot for our money.”
Delaney reported that in the upcoming months, the school administration staff would have to relocate to interim housing as construction gets under way. Gafcon representative Tim Ireland raised concerns that there is still no room for the construction crew on site. Board members assured him that negotiations were ongoing, as they try to buy or lease property adjacent to the school to accommodate the construction crew. “Without the property, there are concerns for safety and welfare of the children,” Ireland said.
Delaney also reported her efforts to prepare a school budget in light of the State’s Budget that was recently vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. Despite the State’s financial woes, Delaney thinks an adequate budget can be prepared. “We’ll see what we have to cut a la carte, but I think we’ll be okay,” she said.
Board Member Cheatham was concerned about attrition in attendance due to next year’s school renovation. Will families put their children in private schools instead? According to Delaney, a survey was taken and it didn’t appear that attrition would be much of a factor. Indeed, 50 families were interested in busing to help remedy parking problems. “We’re going to budget flat,” said Delaney, who felt that any attrition would be offset with new children in the district attending the school.
The next School Board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 5.