The Mancos school board focused on technology, discipline, and upcoming project-based learning initiatives at its regular meeting Monday night.
Technology talks came in the form of a 1-to-1 computer initiative proposed by the new secondary school Principal John Marchino. Discipline-wise, Marchino also presented a simplified code of conduct for high school students.
Project-based learning, or PBL, is still in the early phases, said the new PBL Coordinator Ed Whritner, but teachers are gearing up to implement projects and more PBL curriculum in the classroom.
1-to-1 computer policyThe board approved the first reading of a new technology policy that would assign a specific laptop to secondary students.
It’s a 1-to-1 computer plan proposed by Marchino. Under this plan, students in grades seven through 12 would each be checked out one Chromebook, which they could then take home. Sixth grade students would also be assigned a computer, but these would remain at school.
Starting in the 2020-21 school year, graduating seniors who pay a yearly technology fee of about $20 for at least two years would be able to keep the computers. Students eligible for free and reduced lunch would not have to pay this fee, Marchino said during a workshop prior to the regular meeting, and elementary principal Cathy Epps added there is some donor funding available to assist with this fee.
School code of conductAlso during the work session, Marchino presented a new code of conduct to help with disciplinary action at the secondary school. The current code lists three separate tiers of infractions, but doesn’t really explain the subsequent consequences, he said.
“It doesn’t give you real guidelines as to what to do in those situations,” Marchino said.
The new code spells out the specific consequences for various infractions, with first, second, and third interventions clearly detailed.
Marchino said the new code will also cut down on work for administrative assistant Heather McKie at the end of the year – the discipline forms and infractions can be input into the online Powerschool system, which will take care of disciplinary tracking and records.
The new code also has included some restorative justice components, which focuses on student reparations and reconciliation rather than on punitive discipline. With an infraction like pushing and shoving, for example, students might be asked to take part in a “restorative circle” to resolve the conflict with one another, Marchino said.
PBL updatesThe district’s push toward project-based learning was discussed throughout the Monday night meeting.
During the work session, Whritner presented a TED Talk video on the World Peace Game, in which students take on the roles of different countries and deal with global crises, negotiating and collaborating with one another. The video was intended to show how learning might be assessed in a PBL situation.
“It doesn’t replace testing when testing is necessary,” Whritner said. But by listening to students talk about their learning, or witnessing that learning happen, teachers might get a “more authentic and performance-based assessment,” he said.
In the regular meeting, teachers at all levels presented some of the PBL work they are incorporating in their classrooms. Fourth graders are making their own mini electric vehicles, sixth grade students are creating their own museum displays, and high school students are looking to collaborate with the town of Mancos on community improvement projects.
ConstructionA few campus neighbors posed some concerns regarding the lighting system at the new football field, saying that the lights were invasive and not getting turned off properly at night.
Owner’s rep Monty Guiles and Superintendent Brian Hanson said that this was likely a procedural issue getting ironed out, adding that the light engineers had taken great care to “minimize the light trespass.”
“It’s just a matter of us doing a little better housekeeping,” Guiles said.
The large-scale renovation project has currently spent about $18.9 million of its $24.7 million budget. They expect Jaynes Construction to be out of the elementary school soon, Guiles said, and then will be focusing its efforts on the Performance Center.