SD2 board gets updates on bond projects, opt-out procedures for novels

2014-02-17T21:29:00Z 2014-02-18T10:44:04Z SD2 board gets updates on bond projects, opt-out procedures for novelsBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

School District 2 has tightened up its procedures for letting parents know what books are on the middle and high school required reading lists and how to request an alternate title.

At its meeting Monday night, SD2’s director of curriculum Kim Anthony said a five-step action plan is now in place. Every household with an SD2 high-schooler will receive the school’s required-reading list, attached to the principal’s letter sent home at the start of the school year.

Included with the list are instructions to parents, informing them to let the school know if a book on the list is one they don’t want their child to read. Parents will then be given a form to fill out, where they can state their specific objections. This will allow the classroom teacher to offer a replacement reading more in line with the family’s sensibilities, Anthony said.

“This is just a process,” Anthony said, explaining that this new opt-out procedure is not a board policy.

The issue arose in November when a parent requested the district remove from its reading list Sherman Alexie’s novel, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” saying it was offensive to her and her child.

She also asked that the district update and clarify its opt-out procedure for materials students might find offensive.

At that meeting, the board voted to keep the Alexie novel on the required-reading list and instructed district staff to examine its current opt-out procedure, which was the basis for Anthony’s report to the board on Monday night.

Also at the meeting, trustees heard updates on the major construction projects starting this spring using money from the $122 million bond voters passed in November.

Trustees briefly discussed the Common Core curriculum initiative. An informational meeting for the community will be held at Lincoln Center at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

At the meeting will be Dennis Parman, assistant state superintendent of schools, to answer the community’s questions about Common Core.

Work on McKinley and Broadwater elementary schools will begin on June 9 and continue through the summer and next school year. Work is projected to finish by August 2015.

A portion of the students from McKinley will likely move over to the Lincoln Center next year while renovation work on the school moves into full gear.

McKinley will hold a community meeting on Feb. 27 to talk to parents and answer questions about the renovations and the plans to accommodate students while it happens.

A community meeting for parents at Broadwater will be held the next week on March 4.

Work on planning and designing the two new middle schools that will be built next year has also started. Architects have been meeting with middle school teachers and administrators seeking feedback and ideas on designs.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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