School board to hear updates on GATE lottery, Montgomery, budget planning

By From page A1 | February 06, 2013

The Davis school board will hear updates on the new lottery system for picking qualifying students for the district’s GATE program when it meets at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Also on the agenda are a report and recommendations by a committee at Montgomery Elementary, which has been studying that school’s programs over the past few months, as well as the latest round of the school district’s budget planning process. The meeting is in the Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd.

In January, Superintendent Winfred Roberson announced that the district would switch from a rank-ordered process, based on the highest test scores, to a lottery-based process, picking from among all students with qualifying scores, for its Gifted and Talented Education program.

“Placement will be by random selection from a pool of qualified students requesting self-contained GATE classes,” the agenda summary states. “Students already placed in self-contained GATE classes will not be affected by this new process.”

Roberson told The Enterprise on Tuesday that “If a student is already in the elementary GATE program, that student will automatically roll into the junior high program. Those (students moving up to junior high) that are in the program will continue in the program; only those students that are on the waiting list would be involved in the new lottery.”

He said Thursday night’s agenda item is an update to the school board on the administrative decision to switch to a lottery-based system and “will not include a discussion of the future of the GATE program, or the AP (Advanced Placement) courses at the high school level.”

Roberson added, “There has been no administrative discussion or any board discussion about elimination of GATE or AP courses.”

The district has been working since May on an update of the GATE Master Plan, and in January, Roberson announced he is extending the process for developing and reviewing that document into this fall.

“Staff believes we have a great opportunity to examine our GATE model and identify areas for improvement,” the agenda summary says. “The intent of this item is to identify an appropriate random selection process and extend the GATE Master Plan timeline to provide adequate time for a review of other models.”

The school board also will hear a report from the Research and Development Committee at Montgomery Elementary. Last spring, Principal Sally Plicka began a series of “Principal’s Chats” to “take a fresh and open look at the school and what the community hoped it would become.”

This led to the formation of the Research and Development Committee, which will present a 31-page report Thursday to the school board. Among the committee’s recommendations: more integration of Spanish Immersion and traditional English programs, full-day kindergarten and technology support “to equalize the access for 21st century learning skills.”

This week’s agenda item for budget planning includes further discussion of the district’s continuing budget deficit. For some months, Associate Superintendent Bruce Colby has reminded the trustees that the district continues to deal with a structural deficit, which Colby has variously estimated at $1.5 million to $2.5 million.

Colby’s estimates have varied as new state budget proposals have emerged in Sacramento. Like most school districts, the Davis district depends on state funding for the lion’s share of its budget.

Among the possible ways to reduce the deficit mentioned in Thursday night’s agenda material: defer a decision on class-size reduction spending for grades K-3 until it is clear whether increased class-size reduction funding is coming from the state; reduce district-level and school site-level budgets; reduce time for classroom aides (currently funded through the nonprofit Davis Schools Foundation); increase parcel tax revenues slightly through an annual adjustment for inflation; tighten the special education program and staffing (to be discussed at a future meeting); and reconfigure and close school sites (to be discussed at a future meeting).

Elsewhere on the agenda, the school board will:

* Receive the annual report of the Parcel Tax Oversight Committee;

* Hear a follow-up report on world language course offerings at the junior high and high school levels; and

* Review three changes in secondary course offerings that will be retitled, from agriculture mechanics to agriculture engineering.

Thursday’s meeting will be carried live on Davis cable Channel 17 and as streaming video at www.djusd.tv.

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



Jeff Hudson

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