Classroom changes making a difference

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Environment really makes a difference for learning.

Teachers at Austin's BANK school found that out last year as dramatic improvements in behavioral issues coincided with the completion of Phase I improvements to the classrooms.

Director of Special Services Julie Ladwig presented some impressive figures to the school board at their last regular meeting.

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Compared to the 2001-02 school year, last year the number of students sent out of the classroom dropped from 369 to 246, a 33 percent decrease. The use of out of school suspensions dropped from nine to two, and in school suspensions went from five to zero. Calls to parents to come and take their student home dropped from 19 in 2001-02 to three in 2002-03.

All this came with an enrollment increase of two students.

Previous to Phase I completion, classroom walls did not extend to the ceiling. Consequentially, any disturbances in a classroom interfered with all three classes.

"You heard everything from every part of the school," Ladwig said.

Phase I completed four separate classrooms for the 24 students involved with the program. The next phase will include the construction of a computer lab and eating area.

Besides solving the problems from one classroom to the next, Ladwig said students are showing a lot more pride in their facilities.

"They're taking more responsibility because somebody cared enough to take care of that space," she said.

BANK school teacher Brian Schoen said the difference was like "night and day."

He said with separate rooms, a new student can have individual time with a teacher during the day.

"It just gives them that extra piece," he said. "You never got the one-on-one orientation time with them. It makes a world of difference."

Matt Merritt can be reached at 434-2214 or by email at