School board reviews proposed Ellis curriculum

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 28, 2003

The Austin School Board meeting reviewed proposed courses at Ellis Middle School for 2003-04 school year Monday.

The new curriculum was approved for recommendation last week by the Austin School District committee and the high-potential parent advisory.

A draft of all three grade levels registration forms was presented by Candace Raskin, Ellis principal.

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Required courses for six grade would include reading, social studies, mathematics and language arts and science.

Physical education will be offered every other day in a six day cycle. Art, keyboarding, woods and family and consumer science will be offered every quarter.

Students can participate in band, orchestra and choir or a combination of the three. These three elective courses will be offered two times every six school days for the whole year. An optional "zero-hour" for reading and math will be offered from 7:10 to 7:50 a.m. Monday through Friday and 3 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Raskin also proposed students having a home room teacher. A possible six grade team pattern would be divided in four teams of three teachers each.

Raskin said some students are busy outside school and do not have support. She said often too much time is spent on assigning homework and there is a need to focus on making sure students are learning and providing the assistance they may need.

The seventh grade classes requirements will include language arts, social studies, science, and three levels of math, which will be offered all year. Reading and physical education will be offered by semester.

Life skills, art, computer applications and plastics will be offered for the length of a quarter. Life skills, a class which focuses on looking at drugs, alcohol and human sexuality, would be taught one part in seventh grade and the other in eighth grade. Electives for seventh grade students will be divided in year-long classes including, orchestra, choir, band, study hall and A+reading and mathematics. Semester classes will be manufacturing, family consumer and study hall.

The optional zero-hour will be available for band and orchestra students only from 7:10-7:50 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

For eighth graders, required courses would include language arts, social studies, science and math with three different levels. Communication: written and oral and physical education would be a semester class. As for quarter-long classes, students would have art, which would then be replaced by the second half of life skills class. Students also will have an introduction course to Spanish and two graphic technology classes.

Elective courses for eighth graders include band, orchestra, choir, art, study hall, plastics, advanced woodworking A+reading and math or have the option to be an office or library aid.

An early bird choir and Jazz band would be offered before school.

Raskin informed the board the drafts have been through all committees and have been looked over repeatedly.

Other items on the agenda:

Educational Service Director Sheila Berger, addressed the board to look at options on how to address the class size at K-5 grade levels and what can be done.

Principals from the elementary schools were present at the meeting for discussion.

Berger will do more research gathering concerns from teachers, parents and staff. The board will set a meeting in to revisit the issue.

Roxana Orellana can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at