Board concerned over funding cut for K-3 Reading Initiatives

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 17, 1998

Rebecca Burk Ellis / L’Observateur / July 17, 1998

EDGARD – The idea that a third of a very successful state-funded program is being cut has St. John the Baptist Parish School Board membersworried.

The program, K-3 Reading Initiatives, was cut $10 million statewide, leaving only $20 million to disperse among parishes instead of $30 million. St. John’s portion was cut by $78,000.When the report was presented Thursday night at the board meeting at West St. John Elementary, Associate Superintendent Chris Donaldsonbriefed board members on what the Initiatives are and how the district has improved because of them.

The Initiatives are a group of programs that strengthen reading skills for students in kindergarten through third grade. The Accelerated ReaderProgram is where a student selects a library book, reads it, then takes a test on the computer about what was read. This allows students to go onto more difficult books.

Project Read targets at-risk students. Multi-sensory strategies are usedthree times a week by the regular classroom teacher to help the student.

Letter People, a program for kindergartners, focuses on reading, writing, math, science, safety, health, social studies, art and music. The mainemphasis of this program is oral language development and phonetics.

And Wright Group Kits contain selections that target a specific level of reading development. They contain read-alouds, shared reading, guidedreading, language development and a classroom library for independent reading.

Before these programs were implemented, second- and third-graders in the parish were given a pre-test to see what level they were at in reading.

At the end of the year, the same students were given post-tests to see if they improved.

Between the pre-tests and the post-tests, second-graders who read below their grade level decreased 24 percent. Second-graders who were readingat their grade level increased 3 percent, and the number of those reading above their grade level increased 21 percent.

Third-graders who read below their grade level decreased by 12 percent.

Those who could read at their level increased 5 percent, and those who could read above their level increased 7 percent.

“We are very pleased with the results of this test,” Donaldson said. “Eventhough it wasn’t a full year of implementation is was successful.”With these improved scores in mind, some board members suggested they pick up the difference so the program can continue to plow forward as usual.

“We’re going to be doing this different and having a lesser result,” board member Leroy Mitchell said. “I want this program in whole. We shouldfinance it fully.”He requested to put it on the agenda for the next meeting so board members could discuss the possibility of the funding the portion of the program that was cut.

Board members C.J. Watkins and Russ Wise also expressed their concernsabout the funding cut.

“This program is working,” Wise said. “The last thing we want to do is cutback on it.””I’m very worried about this cut on a successful program,” Watkins said.

“I’m not satisfied that they will cut $78,000 and nothing will happen.”

Return To News Stories