School board has struggles with reading program recommendation

Program base costs run close to $240,000

    Approval of a new K-12 reading program for Chase County Schools was no slam dunk for board members after a recommendation came before them last week.
    Newly-hired curriculum coordinator April Lambert, K-6 Principal Becky Odens and three other staff members gave presentations touting the American Reading Company (ARC) program, but board members wanted to take some time to think about it and get more input instead of voting at the June 9 meeting.
    A special meeting was set for this Monday at 6 p.m. for a possible decision.
    Issues of cost, if it’s the right time to buy with COVID-19, what a teacher preference vote meant, five K-1 teachers who do not favor it and even Black Lives Matter politics are being weighed by the board.
    According to board policy, a new reading program was on track to be purchased and used in the 2019-20 school year.
    Work on finding a new CCS reading program started last fall with 2019-20 curriculum coordinator Michelle Williams and 7-12 Principal Jon Lechtenberg. Both are not returning to CCS next year.
    Lambert and Principal Odens resumed the review after Lambert was hired earlier this year. Both recommended purchasing the ARC program.
    “This recommendation has not been a fly-by-night decision,” Lambert said.
    She noted 70 hours of study were spent by the two of them. Lambert said the recommendation was not biased.
    Noting some of the copyrights on reading material being used at CCS dates back to 2001, Lambert said, “Teachers need an updated curriculum to do their jobs.”
    She cited low CCS test scores as a reason a new K-12 program is needed and ARC meets the needs of all students, she said.  Different reading programs are being used now, and grades 7-12 have no curriculum at all, it was pointed out.

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