Call to Order and Roll Call
Thethird meeting of the Subcommittee on Elementary and Secondary Education of the Interim Joint Committee on Education was held on Monday, September 13, 2010, at 10:30 AM, CDT, at the South Warren High School in Warren County. Senator Vernie McGaha, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Brian Womack and Johna Rodgers, Green River Regional Educational Cooperative.
Presentation: Warren County Schools’ Arts and Humanities Programs
Senator McGaha said that September 12-18 was designated as “Arts in Education Week” and, having been a band teacher, he was very interested in hearing about Warren County’s art programs. Ms. Kathy Goff, Assistant Superintendent, Warren County Schools, provided an overview of the various Arts and Humanities activities offered throughout the school district. A handout was provided to the subcommittee members to supplement her presentation.
Ms. Goff said that Warren County Public Schools consists of thirteen elementary schools, four middle schools, four high schools, and four alternative programs with a current year total enrollment of 13,948 students. All of the schools have music teachers, all of the middle and high schools have full time art teachers, and itinerant teachers holding master degrees in art provide instruction for elementary school students. Drama classes are provided in the classroom; dance core content is covered in music and physical education classes; all schools in the district have student choirs; the high schools have marching bands; and all schools have concert bands. A completed curriculum guide is used by all Arts and Humanities teachers in the district. Ms. Goff said many of the teachers have received Kentucky Music Educators Association Teacher of the Year awards.
Ms. Goff said goals of the art education program include exposing students to the visual arts; to different media, such as clay, weaving, wire sculpture, and painting; to the different purposes and meaning of art; and to various artists and cultures. The art teachers participate in various state and national conferences and develop and participate in professional development activities. Student art work is displayed throughout the district and community and is entered in various regional and state contests. The district applies for various grants to supplement funding for the arts and participates in a mentoring program with Western Kentucky University (WKU) for future art teachers. Students also participate in community festivals and projects, paint murals in the schools and community, create digital art, compose music with computer programs, and perform in musicals and plays.
Ms. Goff said Warren County has about a 10 percent Limited English Proficiency (LEP) population and the district has over 1300 LEP students. The district conducts a six-week summer language and literacy camp for the LEP students in grades 4-8 to help them overcome language barriers and to expose them to the Arts and Humanities curriculum.
Ms. Goff said that the district partnered with WKU’s Department of Music in the 2003-2004 school year to start an elementary strings program. Interest in the program has grown so rapidly that a full-time district strings teacher was employed in 2010-2011 to serve 100 students in 10 different schools participating in the strings program. Some of the students are performing with various orchestras throughout the state and many students are so interested that they take private lessons outside the school.
Ms. Goff said the success of the Arts and Humanities program in the Warren County Schools can be attributed to outstanding teachers, school leadership, and parental and community support. She said the only frustration is the inability to assess and measure the exemplary progress being made by the district in the program.
In response to a question from Senator McGaha, Ms. Goff said that all students in the district attend various art classes and each student is in various art classes an average of 1˝ to 2 hours each week during the regular school day and many students also participate in after school programs.
In response to a question from Representative Carney, Ms. Goff said that transportation for after school activities is generally provided by the district, although parents sometimes need to transport their children.
In response to questions from Representative Rollins, Ms. Goff said that the art teachers and sometimes other faculty devote countless hours beyond the normal school day to help students prepare for plays and other art activities; art teachers also meet after school to collaborate and share ideas for teaching, which is part of their professional development; and elementary school students pay a small tuition to participate in the strings program, but that the district is purchasing additional stringed instruments as funding becomes available. Ms. Goff said high school students may elect to take other career path courses instead of art and music classes once they have met their Arts and Humanities requirements. She said that Warren County was not a Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) pilot district for program reviews in Arts and Humanities.
Representative Stone asked for more information on the itinerant personnel and program reviews. Ms. Goff responded that most of the elementary school art teachers are itinerant and a new itinerant art teacher was hired during the current school year because of increased student enrollment. She said it is difficult to measure a student’s knowledge in Arts and Humanities using a paper and pencil test so program review is the better measurement. Senator McGaha agreed that the arts are performance-based programs.
Senator Westwood said he understands the frustration that art teachers must feel when there is no measurement to show their exemplary teaching skills but that often students interested in the arts have higher scores in other academic areas. He said Arts and Humanities were thoroughly discussed during the implementation of Senate Bill 1 (2009) and it was decided that program reviews would be the best measurement of progress. In response to a question from Senator Westwood about the arts curriculum map, Ms. Goff said it is designed to integrate the core content and to ensure that all of the teachers are following a map so that the standards being taught are consistent throughout the district.
In response to questions from Senator Givens, Ms. Goff said that transportation is provided for the LEP students who attend the summer language and literacy camp and that all costs for attending the camp are funded by the district. The district has been conducting the summer camp for approximately five to six years and students are referred by the district elementary and middle schools. Lack of funding prevents expanding the program to LEP students in high school. Mr. Tim Murley, Superintendent, Warren County Schools, said that the county has a refugee center and 18 percent of all refugees in the state live in Warren County. Approximately 400 of the 1000 student enrollment increase over the last three years can be attributed to the refugee population, which has created unique challenges for the district.
In response to a question from Representative Carney, Ms. Goff said that all middle school students receive instruction in art, music, and physical education.
Senator Blevins said it his belief that students who participate in music and art programs also improve their performance in academic areas and he complimented the faculty on their dedication to the arts.
Representative York asked if students seem more engaged in one particular art media, such as music versus visual art. Ms. Goff said there are student strengths and interests in all of the programs due to outstanding teachers and active parental and community involvement. Representative York complimented the faculty on their community outreach activities.
In response to a question from Senator McGaha, Mr. Murley said the music room in which the meeting was being held was a high school music room and that an identical music room was located in the middle school building. Ms. Goff said the South Warren Middle and High School only share the auditorium and kitchen.
In response to a question from Representative Carney, Mr. Murley said that the close proximity of middle and high school students on the South Warren campus has not created any significant problems. Some of the middle school students are allowed to take certain high school courses and gifted high school students are provided dual credit opportunities with the local technical school and WKU.
In response to a question from Senator Givens about growth in the district, Mr. Murley said that enrollment continues to increase each year with 378 additional student enrollments in the current year. He said the Bowling Green area has not been as severely impacted economically as other areas of the state, which may attribute to continuing growth in school enrollment. He said 400 out of the last 1000 students enrolled were LEP and are at all age groups and academic levels. He said No Child Left Behind criterion does not adequately reflect all of the characteristics of a growth district, such as the LEP population. Ms. Goff added that the district has students speaking many different languages and new LEP students are constantly being enrolled creating unique challenges for the district.
Senator McGaha asked if the Bowling Green Independent School System is experiencing the same rate of growth, to which Mr. Murley replied that the system probably experienced similar patterns, although the population growth in the county has now greatly increased because of building space.
Representative Stone said he is aware that the refugee population has created special issues, such as acceptance of the various nationalities and language barriers. Mr. Murley said one example is that the district is currently printing its handbook in six different languages at a cost of $25,000 per printing.
In response to a question from Senator Westwood, Ms. Goff said that staff, including interpreters, in the Family Resource Centers assist with ensuring that LEP students have received the necessary inoculations and that their health and medical needs are being met.
Senator McGaha expressed gratitude to the faculty for their commitment to Arts and Humanities in the Warren County School System.
Senator McGaha announced that only the full Interim Joint Committee on Education would meet in October and the meeting will be held at the Green County Area Technology Center/Green County High School in Greensburg.
There being no further business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at 11:30 AM, CDT.