Nagler pushes changes in Mineola SD

Nagler pushes changes in Mineola SD

Superintendent of Mineola Schools Michael Nagler called for several wide-ranging changes to the school district during a board of education workshop last week that he said would improve education, but not push the budget above the 2 percent tax cap.

Included are changes to the curriculum that would help reduce or eliminate students being pulled from class, changes to class scheduling at the elementary and middle schools, the construction of a new science lab at the Jackson Avenue School, changes to the academically gifted program and the hiring of additional staff.

“We are taking money we have saved with the recent configuration and reinvesting it,” Nagler said. “I can say with confidence that we can keep all programs, hire additional staff and be under the 2 percent cap.”

Nagler said he was seeking to increase the district’s emphasis on science is based on the need to keep up with state and national trends. He said he sought to reduce or eliminate students being pulled from class based on the concerns expressed by parents.

“We have a nasty habit of pulling our kids from class,” Nagler said. “It’s counter intuitive to continue this practice. It’s plain old common sense that the more time a teacher has with a child the more they will learn.”

For students in grades Pre K- 2, Nagler said he would like to reduce the one-hour lunch period that includes recess and physical education to allow for a five-day special rotation with 40-minute periods that would feature Spanish twice a week, library, music and art.

“I feel an hour for lunch is too long when we can better utilize that time,” Nagler said. “We want to capture instructional time and want to give more time for P.E., art and Spanish programs. When you want a rich program it can’t be at the expense of instructional time.”

Nagler said he wants to adopt a pilot program for K-2 science curriculum called knowing Science-Kid Knowledge, which would stress the use of scientific language as children learn about science.

At the Jackson Avenue School Nagler said the district can use reinstated grant money to build a new lab for a “science laboratory experience” students can attend once a week. The idea Nagler said was to have the teachers in charge of the lab sessions to coordinate with the teachers in the other classes.

“This way students can read about the science experiments in their class, and then get to actually do experiments in the lab, that they just read about in class,” Nagler said. “This gives a focus on more hands on experiments. Right now we don’t give elementary students enough hands-on experience.”

In addition to a science lab, Nagler said he wants students to start learning instruments at the third grade level, instead of fourth grade.

“I want to let every child be able to have a chance to play an instrument,” Nagler said. “Studies have shown children exposed to music helps with academic performance. We can also have students miss recess once a week to help with additional lessons. With this we’ll have enough time so students won’t have to be pulled out of class.”

Nagler said additional staff would be needed to help with the music program.

The biggest change to the curriculum would be the return to secondary schedules at the middle school, Nagler said. He proposed the schedule go to an eight-period day, consisting of 51-minute periods. Nagler said it would add an additional 10 minutes to the school day.

“We would also reinstate the lunch lab so students can go see a teacher if they need help,” Nagler said.

Nagler’s proposal for changing the academically gifted children’s program calls for another look at entrance score criteria, and the creation of new class. Students are accepted into the program based on how well they score on the cognitive abilities test. The test scores range from 100 to 140 and those scoring above 130 are considered gifted, Nagler said.

“How do you really define a gifted child though and what do we do with them,” Nagler said. “We can create a different kind of program where we have a class that meets once a week made up of the top eight students in grades five through seven. It will be a voluntary program where parents and students must commit for three years.”

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