Mapleton School Board holds March meeting


Board votes to continue state testing with opt-out option

March 19, 2022 — The Mapleton School District (MSD) Board of Directors met March 16 for their regular monthly meeting. Andrea Milbrett was the only director not in attendance. 

There were no public comments submitted to the board for this meeting.

Principal Brenda Moyer gave the middle school/high school report as the first significant order of business.

She started by talking about the new P.E. teacher Ed Dillahay and his willingness to immediately jump in and work to establish relationships with his students. 

He also coaches the Mapleton track team and “he’s on a four year mission to bring baseball back to Mapleton,” Moyer said.

Next, the board talked about the lack of electives for students. 

Moyer said they had a one-day event for students that were passing their classes where they could do an elective type of activity, but Director Michelle Holman asked what the plan was for next year. She wanted to know if a more permanent solution was being worked on for regular electives.

Moyer said the district had a hired an art teacher for next year that came highly recommended. In addition, the district was actively searching for more teachers that would allow MSD to expand their class offerings.

Superintendent Jodi O’Mara then listed the positions the district was currently recruiting to fill: K-12 counselor, a dual-endorsed language arts teacher and an advanced math teacher.

O’Mara next presented the showcase portion of the meeting, the fifth and sixth grade.

The students have been studying novels. They break into groups, where students read on their own or with support then eventually come together to discuss the novels they are reading. 

Those novels are “Peak,” “Walk Two Moons,” “A Long Walk to Water,” “Hothead” and “James and the Giant Peach.”

Their discussions in class cover different story elements and text structures.

The fifth and sixth graders have also been working on informative essays, how to add and subtract fractions and using recyclables to create Valentine’s Day boxes.

The two classes also did research on a person who shaped Black history and created a class quilt using their images.

Lastly, the students are growing crystals in science. 

The board next talked about the new playground structure that recently opened at the elementary school. Members expressed their excitement.

Next O’Mara talked about COVID mitigation steps after the end of the mask mandate on March 12. 

She said masks will no longer be required for students or staff at school or on school buses. Contract tracing will no longer be required. Those who test positive will be asked to quarantine for five days. Students and staff who have been exposed are not required to quarantine if they are asymptomatic. 

O’Mara said COVID tests are available from the district for use at school or to send home if desired by a parent.

“Most importantly,” O’Mara said, “if you’re sick, stay home.”

O’Mara ended her presentation by stressing how important it is that everyone is treated with respect, whether they chose to continue wearing a mask or not.

“We will respect everyone’s choice and as a district will not tolerate bullying, harassment or intimidation regarding a persons’ choice to wear or not wear a mask,” she said.

Later in the discussion portion of the meeting, state testing was discussed. A survey was sent out to the community to gauge their feelings on standardized testing and the board talked about the results.

There were 19 respondents to the survey. The question that was asked was, “Do you believe Mapleton School District should continue to offer standardized testing every year with the option for parents to opt out for their students?”

The board pointed out that though there were 11 “yes” votes and eight “nos,” it seems there was some confusion as to what the question was asking. 

Milbrett, who was not in attendance, left a comment that was read to the record.

“I still feel very strongly about state testing, not being productive thing to put our students and staff through,” she stated. “It takes up a lot of precious true teaching time and it is not a good measure of a student's abilities and knowledge, therefore not a true measure of the teacher or schools’ efforts and instruction that have been given to the students. It is also known that some students just do not test well but have obtained the skills and knowledge that was taught.”

Milbrett went on to explain some of the confusion that those that received the survey may have faced. 

“I have looked over the surveys that were sent out and read through each respondent’s comments,” she said. “I found it interesting that quite a few of the people who responded ‘yes’ to offering state testing actually commented aligning with a ‘no’ response. I feel like they either checked the wrong box or didn't quite understand which way they were answering. 

“If we offer it and encourage opt out, there will still be those that forget or just don't opt out that maybe would have preferred to. Yet the staff effort will still be the same no matter how small or large the number of students that are testing. Knowing firsthand what kind of prep comes before testing week, it should be remembered that it comes with a lot of classroom time and percentage productivity in classroom time among all students.”

Even with the confusion, all directors agreed that their individual minds had been made up and a vote should happen that night.

The board voted in favor 3 to 1. Holman was the only dissenting vote. 

MSD will continue state testing but with parents having the option to opt out.

The board meets on the third Wednesday of each month. The next meeting will be April 20. To view the March meeting, in full, go to: youtu.be/xF2s7OwkjDI.

For more information, go to www.mapleton.k12.or.us.

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