Homework, softball, enrollment projections on school board agenda

By From page A1 | February 20, 2013


What: Davis Board of Education

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Community Chambers, Davis City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd.

Watch it: Live on Davis cable Channel 17 and as streaming video at www.djusd.tv

The Davis school board will discuss possible changes to the district’s homework policy, hear a new set of enrollment projections and discuss options for the modernization of the varsity softball field at Davis High School when the trustees meet on Thursday night.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Community Chambers at Davis City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd. It will be carried live on Davis cable Channel 17 and as streaming video at www.djusd.tv.

Staff is recommending several changes to the district’s homework policy (described in depth in a story in Sunday’s edition of The Enterprise). In brief, the proposed changes include:

* Strengthen language for ongoing professional development that focuses on the quality of homework, including purpose and effectiveness of various types of assignments, and that is developmentally appropriate;

* Strengthen language related to giving homework assignments in advance for greater flexibility in time management of the student and family; and

* Clarify that increased homework related to AP and honors courses be limited to grades 9-12.

The agenda notes that “While amendments to the administrative regulations (like district homework policy) are not usually presented to the school board, this policy evaluation has been a long process of significant importance and impact to our educational community. The changes to administrative regulations include references to all the above proposed changes to the current policy and an increase of 10 minutes for each day (four per week) for grades K-6.”

The agenda summary continues, “Elementary principals surveyed their staffs last spring and have continued to discuss the concerns teachers express about the lack of adequate reading time and the resultant concerns about reading fluency and widening the achievement gap. These 10 minutes also provide some time for the formalized social studies and science classes that begin in fourth grade.

“This increase is also directly related the full implementation of the district-adopted math curriculum in grades K-5. For intermediate grades, this 10 minutes will support the individual learning responsibilities of social studies and science curriculum and the reading/project time involved in those courses of study.”

Elsewhere on the agenda, district staff is seeking the school board’s guidance on how to proceed with the softball field at Davis High. As the agenda notes, “the varsity softball field has not been upgraded since being placed approximately 20 years ago. In order to make the field comparable with other district athletic facilities and preserve the field, covered dugouts, batting and pitching cages and fencing are needed as a minimum and scoreboard, bathrooms, snack bar and press box are desired.

“Planning meetings have occurred with the high school softball parents, coaches and staff. There is interest from the high school and community softball supporters to partner with the district through fundraising to help upgrade/improve the girls’ varsity softball facility.”

But complicating the situation is the fact that the field sits on both school district and city property in Community Park. Informal strategizing between the city and district has occurred, but no formal discussions or final decisions have been made, the agenda notes.

Davis High’s baseball team has an improved and enclosed varsity baseball stadium and a junior varsity field with covered dugouts, both entirely on district property, the agenda adds. The JV softball team plays on a lighted field in Community Park that is managed by the city.

Based on feedback from staff and community partners, three options are considered the most feasible, the agenda notes:

* Work with the city on an easement and proceed with improvements;

* Swap fields with JV baseball; and

* Use the lighted field in Community Park for varsity softball games.

Another agenda item involves a new set of enrollment projections from the Southern California-based firm Davis Demographics. The report notes that births in the Davis area have declined by 14 percent from 2006 through 2011, with 2011 reflecting the lowest level of births in 17 years locally. Overall Yolo County births declined by 8 percent during that same period.

As a result, even with a “100 percent capture rate” (i.e., all locally born children enrolling in kindergarten), “the 2015-16 kindergarten class may be less than 500 students” across the Davis district. By comparison, in 2002-03, the school district had 657 kindergarten students.

The report notes that demographics research suggests that Yolo County’s birth rate will start to rise in 2013, and is expected to grow steadily through 2020. But any upturn in births starting in 2013 will not affect kindergarten attendance until 2017 or 2018. As a result, Davis Demographics is projecting a slight decline in Davis school district enrollment for the next few years.

Other items on Thursday’s agenda include:

* A presentation by the Montgomery Elementary School Research and Development Committee, carried over from the lengthy Feb. 7 school board meeting; and

* A presentation about programs at Holmes Junior High School.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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