School board approves life skills curriculum purchase

TONASKET – The Tonasket School Board approved the purchase of the IMC Life Skills curriculum for use in the elementary school at its Monday, June 11 school board meeting.

According to teacher/librarian Kim Fitzthum, who presented the curriculum, it contains life skills that include reading, writing, computers, colors, shapes, location concepts, calenders, time telling, money management and more. It is appropriate for use for low-functioning and non-verbal students.

The curriculum extends to the middle and high school level, but Fitzthum said that those buildings have access to materials on loan from SPED consultant Robin Taylor.

Fitzthum was also in the spotlight for having received a $500 Ezra Jack Keats Mini-grant to allow her to bring to fifth grade students a program she proposed.

She was one of 50 teachers and librarians in 26 states who received a grant, awarded for applying for a specific program that “fosters creative expression, working together and interaction with a diverse community,” according to the foundation’s press release.

“My proposal was to do clay animation with the fifth grade students next year,” Fitzthum said. “It should be a year-long project done in cooperation with at least one, if not more, of the fifth grade teachers. It will provide what they need to build their scenery, and we’ll take still shots as they move and build a movie out if it.”

The board received a report from Special Education director Liz Stucker, who also noted that there were no applicants for the open bilingual paraprofessional position.

“We are looking at maybe doing some internal shifting,” she said. “If we have someone available within the district, I’d feel more comfortable approaching it that way.”

She also added Roni Buchert, that the board approved the hiring of to fill a 0.4 FTE speech/language therapist position, opted not to accept the position.

“She has three other positions and was feeling uncomfortable about managing two days here,” she said. “Both that position and the life skills position are going to be on hold because our case load has dropped. The numbers of students we have has shifted, so we’re going to wait and see what happens before we move.”

The board also approved the elementary and middle school handbooks, both with minimal changes over last year; approved the Highly Capable report, Plan and Elementary School Improvement Plan for 2012-13; approved the hire of Emily Bjelland for a high school science position and Chad Portwood for a high school math position; approved reports by Outreach Program Director Carol Lanigan and Alternative High School Lead Instructor Chelsea Freeman; approved the first reading of the revised Alternative Learning Experience Program policy; approved a trip to the NIC softball camp for the high school softball team; and approved summer programs for softball, boys and girls, basketball, football and soccer.

The school board will next meet on Wednesday, June 27, at 7:30 p.m.

About Brent Baker

Brent, is a former reporter/photographer for the Gazette-Tribune and sometimes works as a freelance sports reporter for the G-T. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent worked as a full time reporter/photographer at the G-T from 2011 - 2014).