CASPER, Wyo. – Several parents complained to the Natrona County School District Board on Monday about what they perceive to be a lack of attention to teaching students the basics of reading and math.
Some of the parents said the NCSD should not spend money on sports facilities such as the Natrona County High School Natatorium at around $ 10.2 million or a proposed tennis center at 3.75. million dollars if students have difficulty with basic academic skills.
Administrator Clark Jensen defended the district’s spending on recreational facilities on two grounds.
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Jensen acknowledged that some children struggle to acquire sufficient reading skills, but argued that it was the parents’ fault and not the teachers and the school district.
“If a parent does not support their children, no teacher can fix it,” Jensen said, adding that he believed “the collapse of society is more important than the collapse of the school system.”
Jensen added that he believes the NCHS swimming pool as well as the proposed tennis facility project is justified on the grounds that extracurricular activities lead to student success.
“I want to stress that swimming pools and tennis courts do not interfere with learning,” Jensen said. “Children who participate in extracurricular activities have more [academic] performance than those that do not.
Jensen argued that providing quality sports facilities helps attract and succeed students in the classroom. He added that he viewed athletics and activities as “part of a well-rounded education”.
Trustee Rita Walsh said she agreed with Jensen.
“I believe that extracurricular activities [students] in schools, ”she said.
Walsh added that as a former teacher with a master’s degree focused on teaching students to read, she doesn’t think the problem with children’s reading levels is the teachers’ fault. She said she thinks teachers are working “very hard” to help students learn to read.
Walsh added that one of the district’s strategic goals is to get all students to read at the third grade level. She acknowledged that this is a goal that cannot always be achieved successfully, but said that “it is a goal that is very dear to us”.
Walsh said that for students to be successful in developing reading skills, it is critical that parents play a role in this learning process.
“We need your help,” she said.
At Monday’s school board meeting, Jensen also provided updates on infrastructure projects within the NCSD. He said the installation of the NCHS pool was nearing completion, adding that the pool tanks had been tested for leaks and no leaks were found.
Jensen said the target date for the official opening of the pool is October 15, and the district is tentatively planning a grand opening ceremony for the first week of November.
He added that the pool project is on budget with around 18% of emergency funds spent. The NCHS elevated walkway project of approximately $ 700,000 to connect the main building to the Mustang Athletic Community Center is also on schedule and on budget.
Jensen said the district is also tentatively preparing to accept proposals from companies interested in designing the proposed tennis complex to be built in Highland Park from October 20.
This project would involve the renovation of the existing courts owned by the Town of Casper in the park and the construction of new courts to facilitate NC and Kelly Walsh tennis training and competitions.
Jensen noted that the tennis facilities project is still awaiting approval of a memorandum of understanding from Casper City Council since the existing tennis facilities are owned by the city. With city council voicing support for the proposed project, Jensen said the NCSD board infrastructure committee expects the memorandum of understanding to be approved.
Jensen added that renovations to Park Elementary School are nearing completion.
He said some new project requests submitted to the infrastructure committee include plans to install better stadium seating for visitors at NCHS’s Dick Cheney Alumni Field and a request from Kelly Walsh to upgrade the press box at Harry Stadium. Geldien.
Sagewood and Pineview Elementary School are both hoping to secure funding for plans to expand their facilities, Jensen said. No decision has been taken on the proposed infrastructure projects.