Brandywine on track to begin classes Sept. 7

Published 9:38 pm Tuesday, August 3, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - With the upcoming school year a little more than a month away, a construction update at Brandywine Public Schools Board of Education meeting Monday indicated the project is still on schedule for school to begin on Sept. 7.
Brandywine Director of Finance Gus Damaske recently toured the three schools and gave the board an update of the facility improvement project.
He said there are a few minor delays including the delivery of some kitchen equipment at Brandywine Elementary and some issues with roofing materials at Merrit Elementary, but nothing that would warrant pushing back the start date for the school year.
After the meeting, Superintendent Gary Rider confirmed all is on track so far, but said, "You must always hold your breath with construction projects.
Last week, Rider and board members met at the Berrien County Intermediate School District for a three-and-a-half-hour workshop to help improve the efficiency of the superintendent/board relationship.
At the workshop, the group laid out a set of ground rules called the Brandywine Public Schools Governance Team Standards of Practice.
On Monday, each board member signed a copy of these standards, which will be displayed throughout the district.
The ground rules include:
Putting the students' needs first;
Showing respect for each other;
No surprises;
Communicating openly and honestly;
Positively promoting and supporting the board;
Being ready and informed for meetings and work sessions;
And acting within the scope of being an effective board member.
A set of four superintendent goals were also set at the workshop, which include:
Overseeing the bond issue;
Developing administrator and staff leadership skills;
Developing a long-range strategic plan;
And developing a marketing plan.
Also at Monday's meeting, Brandywine Middle/High School teacher Ruth Kittleson gave the board a presentation on the results of the Northwest Education Association Achievement test.
The computer test, which was piloted in the Brandywine district three years ago, is given at the beginning and end of each school year to track each student's growth.
While she was excited about the data provided by the tests, Kittleson was concerned with Brandywine's actual results.
She pointed to results indicating low scores in areas like math and percentages showing that many students scored below their recommended reading levels.
Kittleson said these tests are an important tool that helps track the specific skills of each student and where they need to improve.
To capitalize on these test results and make the changes necessary to improve, she recommended the next steps for the district should be curriculum alignment, curriculum mapping, differentiated instruction, accountability across the district and more teacher inservicing.