By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Curry County Juvenile Department Director Wendy Lang outlined the program for a new juvenile resource counselor at the Brookings-Harbor School Board meeting Wednesday. The counselor is housed at Azalea Middle School but is available to help students throughout the district, according to Lang.

She said she promoted Brent Deladurantey to the position effective Oct. 8 and complimented Azalea Middle School Principal Nicole Medrano and school staff for providing an office equipped for the department’s needs.

“I love the relationship we have with Nicole,” she said.

The juvenile department and Brookings-Harbor School Superintendent Sean Gallagher developed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the agencies to define the guide the program, and that MOU was approved by the board Wednesday.

“I am excited to share the new partnership between the Curry County Juvenile Department and the Brookings-Harbor School District,” Lang said.

The number of youth in the south of the county supervised by the juvenile department had increased, according to Lang, and led to the need for a location there.

“We now have over 82 percent of the youth we serve in the Brookings-Harbor School District,” she said.

The school resource counselor will enable the juvenile department to better serve South County students, she added.

According to Lang, the MOU allows the juvenile department to respond immediately to out-of-control youth with de-escalation skills and resources, attend meetings at the schools, provide skill-building opportunities for individuals and groups in all schools and offer prevention services to those youth showing at-risk behaviors, as well as other services.

“We have been trying this program since October and have seen amazing results and notable success,” Lang said. “This partnership is a win-win for all involved.”

Smarter Balance grades

High school Principal Lisa Dion addressed the at-a-glance and math scores for the school this year.

She noted a 25 percent drop in students regularly attending — those attending 90 percent of available days — but said 7 percent of the high school’s students accounted for 90 percent of the absences. She explained repeat offenders often miss 10 days, and can be removed from the school’s rolls, but they re-enroll after 10 absences and then miss 10 more days.

A new truancy court will help with these issues, according to Dion, by providing the necessary stick to goad them into attendance.

She complimented teachers and staff for creating a safe and comfortable school, but said, “With that 7 percent, you need more tools.”

Dion said the graduation rates were a clear success for the district and the high school, noting on-track to graduate rates for freshmen when she started were 59 percent and in this report stood at 93 percent.

On-time graduation also rose from 61 percent to 77 percent over the last five years and might have risen further because the rate for 2017-18 has not been released and is expected to better the 77 percent rate.

Dion said math scores — a mere 15 percent of 11th graders passed the Smarter Balance math test — would remain a focus of improvement, but said a cumbersome list of math standards to be met had complicated teaching for the test.

The Smarter Balance tests evaluate Oregon students on their ability in math, science and English language arts. The tests set minimum competency levels and report to districts on the passing rates of their students based on those levels.

The state of Oregon is currently working to reduce the number of teachable standards from 150 to 50 or less, she said said and the test is in flux as well.

To address the math scores, Dion said the school will:

Implement “Study Island” — a new program designed to connect math the students study to Smarter Balance skills and standards that fit the test.

Change the testing schedule to create a “game-day” mentality — students will test in English language arts and math on early-release days to avoid testing on days when students are distracted by other classwork or a desire to get back to class or friends. Math testing will occur later in the year as well, to increase the time students have in their math classes.

The school will also address Smarter Balance math with a long-term mindset because there is not a quick-fix to improve math scores, Dion added.

“Our students are learning math,” Dion said, “and our math teachers are great. We will play the long game.”

Other items

Gallagher and student Nathaniel Barnard presented certificates of appreciation and Christmas ornaments to board members in honor of National School Board Appreciation Month.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com .

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