Math classes get coaches

The $164 million school board budget provides for 70 new positions.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:49 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fourteen full-time math coaches will be added to the Columbia Public School District next year after the school board approved the $164 million budget Monday night.

Eleven coaches will be added in elementary schools while three will be added in middle schools. Three elementary schools — Paxton Keeley, Derby Ridge, and Mill Creek — will have full-time math coaches, and the other eight coaches at the elementary level will be split up among the remaining 16 schools.

Some Facts and figures

2007-08 Operating budget: $164,035,138 2006-07 Operating budget: $151,071,282 Operating revenues 2007-08: $153,681,743 Operating revenues 2006-07: $144,383,426 Base salary increase 2007-08: $1,000 Base salary increase 2006-07: $1,000 Increase in cost of board-paid medical benefits 2007-08: 8% Increase in cost of board-paid medical benefits 2006-07: 10% Personnel costs (percent of total expenses) 2007-08: 81.98% Personnel costs (percent of total expenses) 2006-07: 81.80%

Math coaches were not included in the budget as a result of recent debate among some parents concerned with the nontraditional math curriculum in the schools, said Cheryl Cozette, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

“We are striving to provide the best math education for our students, and we believe the math coaches will enhance what teachers are already doing very well,” Cozette said.

The math coaches will help with math curriculum and instruction, working alongside teachers in classrooms. Cozette said the idea for hiring math coaches came after several years of requests made by teachers who felt they would benefit from additional support.

Nearly 70 new positions, including the math coaches, will be added in the district. Of those new positions, 87 percent will be in the classroom. Lynn Barnett, assistant superintendent for student support services, said the district began hiring 40 of the new positions since the school board approved the positions earlier this year. The math coaches were among the positions already filled. Linda Coutts, coordinator of elementary mathematics in the district, said the math coaches were hired in April. All coaches hired were already teachers in the district.

Cozette said the coaches will be paid on a salary schedule, just

like teachers, based on longevity and level of education. The district looked for teachers with at least five years of classroom experience, Coutts said.

The district was waiting to fill the remainder of the 70 new positions until after the budget was approved.

The district will dig into reserve funds to compensate for next year’s budgeted expenditures. More than $10 million from the reserve funds will be used. Board Vice President Darin Preis voiced concerns about the use of reserve funds last week at two community forums held for the public. Despite those concerns, Preis said he was enthusiastic about the budget.

“We’re meeting a lot of requests from schools, and it’s covering a lot of bases,” Preis said. “But we need to be very planful about increases in the future.”

Also at Monday’s meeting, Tom Rose was sworn in as the newest member of the board. Rose took over for the remainder of Don Ludwig’s term, which expires next April.

“We’re losing a great board member in Don Ludwig,” Preis said. “But Dr. Rose will be a great replacement.”

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Jen Rachow June 12, 2007 | 7:55 a.m.

This is the district's solution to a failing math curriculum? Hire more people? This is a real shame. The parents concern about the nontraditional math courses in the district are not being addressed. The parents are not looking for "coaches" they want real curricular reform. The district has not offered any open forum for parents. Questions have not been addressed. The districts so called open forums are not providing accurate data in terms of the non-success of these curricula. Nor did they provide an open question and answer session. Questions are received by the administrators but never truthfully answered. When will the administration answer parents questions and provide accurate data?

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