During a quick groundbreaking ceremony, current students at Pathfinder Elementary were invited to don hard hats and grab shovels to do the symbolic digging to kick off a $4 million renovation/addition at the school. Onlookers, including a healthy chunk of students set to attend the Back to School Carnival starting nearby, blew bubbles into the air Saturday, Aug. 29 to help commemorate another step in the Platte County R-3 School District’s large capital improvement project set for completion ahead of the 2016-17 school year.
The groundbreaking was held on the site of one of the additions.
The Pathfinder project is part of a $29 million bond issue district voters approved this past April that also includes a new elementary school in Platte City and annexation of Paxton School into the high school.
This project will expand the current kindergarten through second grade building by adding 14 classrooms, a multipurpose room and additional parking to increase the student capacity by 280 students. This will help Pathfinder transition to a K-4 facility and help relieve overcrowding at nearby Barry School, which will go from a third through eighth grade setup to fifth through eighth. This falls in line with the district’s plan to better manage school transitions within the realigned building setup.
Work will begin as soon and will continue during the school year. School officials hope to keep interruptions and distractions to a minimum and will remain in contact with the construction managers. Protocols are in place to limit problems along with emergency planning.
School administrators and board of education members were also on hand, just a few days after another committee tasked with providing input for changes coming to the district as a result of the construction projects.
Nineteen people were chosen from 45 applicants to serve on the district’s boundary adjustment committee at the board’s regular session on Thursday, Aug. 27 at the District Education Center. The district attempted create an objective, diverse and representative committee, considering location of residence, experience and other factors.
The new committee will help decide which students attend Siegrist Elementary and which go to the new, yet-to-be named elementary when the buildings serve kindergarten through fifth grade setup next school year. Members will examine scenarios presented and evaluate them based on the community values and prioritized boundary criteria so a recommendation can be provided to the board of education.
According to a timeline, the committee plans to meet three times — once each in October, November and December — along with a public forum in November before giving the board a recommendation.
The board will have the final say on the boundary lines.
In addition to project updates, the board also heard initial reports on last year’s testing, including troublesome ACT scores. The 2015 senior class compiled an average composite score of 21.7, which matches the state average.
“PCHS has consistently scored above the state average so the 2015 scores are below our expectation. This is a single data point that we will analyze to determine opportunities for improvement,” said Dr. Mike Brown, assistant superintendent for academic services. “However, a single data point does not constitute a trend.”
Next year’s scores with all Missouri juniors taking the ACT last year (this year’s senior class) will start a new baseline for all Missouri districts. The 2014-15 school year marked the first time the state offered a one-time administration of the exam to all 11th-grade students in the state. The same opportunity will be offered to 11th graders during this school year and going forward.
Comparing ACT scores from district to district will become more meaningful with this statewide mandate, according to district officials.
“In spite of this temporary setback, I remain confident in the direction of Platte County High School,” Reik said. “This performance is heavily contrasted by sustained improvement in ACT scores prior to this year along with positive trends in end-of-course exams.”
While ACT scores disappointed, district officials were encouraged by the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) and End-of-Course (EOC) results, released earlier in the month. The 2015 spring MAP assessments included new standards for English and match in grades three through eight and were therefore not compared to previous results.
School officials said testing data is one of the several tools we use to help teachers and students improve their work, and a more detailed assessment will be available at the board’s October meeting.
However, initial highlights included MAP/EOC test scores were 8.8 percent above state average, and the district improved from last year in all required EOCs (Algebra I, Biology I, English II and Government.
More than 97 percent of eighth graders who took the high school Algebra I EOC exam (117 students) scored in the top two levels (proficient and advanced).