Five new Cape school district committees meet for first time

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Five newly appointed Cape Girardeau School District committees convened for the first time Tuesday night to start crafting recommendations to address five major issues: At-risk students, parental involvement, facilities and finance, school climate and student achievement.

Superintendent Dr. David Scala greeted nearly 100 parents, business leaders, teachers and school administrators who showed up for the 6 p.m. meeting in the board of education office.

"I appreciate the fact that you are willing to help out," he said.

Scala said the five committees -- or so-called action teams -- have two months to complete their work.

He wants their recommendations by May. Those recommendations will be reviewed by a steering committee.

Scala said he hopes to have the school board adopt the comprehensive plan in June.

After the initial instructions Tuesday night, the five groups held separate meetings, with a different administrator heading up each committee.

At a meeting of the committee studying how to better help at-risk students, black pastor Cecil Thomas suggested the school district look at involving churches in the effort.

But Deena Ring, director of special services for the school district, said that's difficult because school officials legally can't disclose confidential information about students.

Scala said he hopes the committee will look at alternatives to suspending students when they get in trouble at school.

In another room, members of another committee discussed how to boost student achievement.

Committee member Skip Smallwood suggested recruiting people from private industry to assist with teaching students math and science skills.

"A lot of companies are telling us they are looking for logic skills," said Smallwood, who works for AmerenUE.

Cape Girardeau physician Dr. John Russell, another committee member, said schools nationwide need to do a better job of teaching students how to comprehend what they read.

But teachers on the committee said the Cape Girardeau school system tests reading comprehension of students, starting in kindergarten.

335-6611, extension 123

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