School board hears summer school update, approves oil, gas lease

Michael Karlik/Torrington Telegram Photo The Goshen County School District Board of Trustees approved an oil and gas lease and new electronic equipment at its Tuesday meeting.

Of Goshen County School District’s approximately 1,700 students, 191 attended summer school this year, trustees learned at their Tuesday, Aug. 13 meeting.

The majority were elementary school students, with 111 attending across the Torrington, Lingle, and Southeast campuses. Middle and high school students met at Torrington High School. 

Enrollment in summer school came from teacher referrals, but not all referred students opted to attend. Torrington High School assistant principal Dave Plendl stated that summer school was not about punishment.

“There’s nothing wrong with your kid. This is strengthening,” he said. “We need to keep on with a positive message.”

The program ran from July 8 to Aug. 1. An additional 33 special education students participated in the extended school year program to prevent summer skill loss.

High school students earned a total of 44 semesters of credits, the majority being in English and math. Middle schoolers took the STAR test, with 78 percent demonstrating growth in math and 73 percent showing reading growth.

At the elementary level, STAR test scores improved almost universally, in some cases showing more than 90 percent growth between the spring semester and the end of summer school.

The only losses in test scores came from the Southeast site, which Lincoln Elementary School Principal Nyana Sims said had the biggest attendance challenges.

“Looking at the scores, it proves the importance of attendance, because missing even that amount of time, it’s going to affect what’s happening in the classroom.”

Plendl emphasized repeatedly that a recent decision allowing some rising sixth graders to attend middle school camp was beneficial.

“The ability to pre-teach those incoming sixth graders that first unit of math that they’re going to get there in a couple of weeks, not only do the parents like it, but the students were really confident,” he said. “When they walk in, they know a couple of teachers already. They’re comfortable.”

Trustee Carlos Saucedo echoed Plendl’s assessment. 

“Whoever’s idea it was to bring those sixth graders in, I would like to shake their hand,” he said. “That’s always been this huge gap from fifth grade going into sixth grade.”

Oil and gas lease

Trustees approved a five-year oil and gas lease on the Southeast Schools campus. Emerson Lea Group LLC of Weatherford, Tex. will lease 25 acres at $150 per acre, with an option for an additional five years at $200 per acre.

The school district will also receive a 18 percent production royalty.

The agreement was a renewal of an existing lease. Principal Randy Epler said that no drilling has yet occurred on school grounds, nor does he expect there to ever be. However, he does welcome the lease.

“I’m kind of excited about the fact that there’s interest in those mineral leases, like the 25-acre lease on our school campus,” he said. “It serves as a source of revenue to landowners.”

The board okayed the lease renewal unanimously with no discussion, with Trustee Mark Jespersen absent. One person familiar with the board’s decision said that the trustees typically rely upon the work done by previous members.

Other business

Looking at preliminary district enrollment data, Superintendent Ryan Kramer expected that 141 students would enroll in kindergarten, triggering a sixth section at Lincoln. This would enable class sizes to shrink to approximately 18 students. Southeast and Lingle elementary schools will have averages of 15 to 16 kindergarteners, respectively, per class.

The board agreed that its work sessions will occur at 4 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month, beginning Sept. 24. Suggested topics from members and the administration included a district patron survey, revisitation of the strategic plan, and field trip policies. In response to a call for online registration of students, Kramer responded that he would undertake a “strong exploration” of such a system.

Trustees also approved the purchase of 15 replacement laptop computers for special education staff costing $12,855, and new microphones for the Torrington High School auditorium for just over $10,000.

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