Board of Education: District foundation raises nearly $54K; elementary reading program changes coming

L-R: Steven Dunham, director of the Washington County School District Foundation, and Vasu Mudliar, chaiman of the "Fore the Kids Classic" golf tournament, present a check during the regular meeting of the Washington County Board of Education meeting, St. George, Utah, Dec. 12, 2017 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Washington County School District Foundation – the charitable wing of the school district – presented a check in the amount of $53,895 during a regular meeting of the Washington County School District Board of Education Tuesday afternoon.

The check was for funds raised during the foundation’s annual “Fore the Kids Classic” golf tournament, which acts as one of the largest fundraisers for the foundation. Money raised will go to support the classroom grant program, which funds small grants teachers can apply for to help supplement learning in the classroom.

Tournament chairman Vasu Mudliar, along with his organizing committee, presented the earnings to the board and those in attendance at the meeting.

The golf classic has raised a significant amount of money for the classroom grant program in its four-year history. Steven Dunham, the director of the foundation and communications director for the school district, said the tournament raised approximately $24,000 in its first year, $36,000 in its second year, $42,000 in its third year and $53,895 in its fourth year.

Thus far, funds from the yearly tournament have helped over 15,000 students who have been beneficiaries of 518 classroom grants, Dunham said.

In recognition of Mudliar’s efforts in organizing and overseeing the golf tournament, Dunham presented him with the Rock Solid Student Advocate Award.

“Here’s a guy that works full time as a first responder in our community – he’s a firefighter in our community – and when he’s not doing that he’s donating time to teachers and students in Washington County,” an emotional Dunham said. “To me that is a giant of a human being.”

Mudliar said that organizing the golf tournament and helping the teachers and students in Washington County is just his way of being able to give back to the community.

“It’s in my blood,” Mudliar said. “I like serving.”

Other district business

In other meeting business, Director of Learning Bob Sonju presented the findings and recommendation of an eight-month process aimed at finding a replacement for the current elementary reading program.

Since 2010 elementary students have been using a program called Treasures. Because of the continuing need to add more rigor to the curriculum in a way that is engaging to both educators and students, a new reading program became necessary.

For eight months a panel of about 40 teachers, learning coaches, university professors and district staff studied a variety of reading programs, Sonju said. A public open house was also held to gather opinions and share information with parents about the changes, he said.

Region PTA Reflections winners pose with members of the Washington County School District Board of Education during a regular meeting of the board, St. George, Utah, Dec. 12, 2017 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The panel unanimously voted for a program entitled Reach for Reading – an elementary reading and language arts program.

The Reach for Reading program is a National Geographic reading program consisting of 50 percent nonfiction literature and 50 percent fiction.

“Our current state core is asking us to rev up our curriculum and get our rigor up,” said Lori Simonson, a learning coach and veteran teacher at Panorama Elementary. “This program is absolutely asking (the students) to dive into books more, to pull out and extract more information and the texts are just fantastically engaging to kids.”

Bloomington Hills Elementary learning coach and teacher Deanna Iverson said that the program’s writing component is one of the things that makes Reach for Reading so exciting. It is something she said that was lacking in the previous program.

The new program will help the teachers get the students where they need to be for college level academics now, Iverson said.

During the meeting Sonju recommended that the board vote to adopt and approve the purchase of the Reach for Reading program. The board voted unanimously to do so.

The program is expected to be fully implemented for the 2018-19 school year, Sonju said. It will be used for students in grades K-6.

The Parent Teacher Association recognized the region winners of the PTA Reflections competition during the board meeting as well. Students from four age groups in seven different art categories – including dance/choreography, film production, literature, music, photograph and visual arts 2-D and 3-D – received certificates and medals at the meeting and will now go on to compete at the state level.

Tracy Martin, the region PTA Reflections chair, said they love the arts in schools and hope to continue to promote them through the Reflections program.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • jaybird December 14, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Do we all know that 1/2 of every house property tax goes to schools? Why oh why do we have fundraisers for schools? Someone please answer.

  • Sapphire December 15, 2017 at 10:08 am

    Why can most of us older people can do math in our heads, can read and spell and never had a “program” in our schools when we grew up? Oh yes, every day in elementary school we spent time doing math in a simple logical way, we read silently and aloud after being trained thoroughly in phonetics. We learned history, had PE where we learned to play all kinds of games and developed comradery and no one was excluded, had time for art, sang songs and learned the basics of music, and had a great time with science. We could all print and write legibly. Homework was graded and handed back with comments from the teacher to help us with things we missed. What happened to education? Why does it cost so much money now when all we needed was paper, pencil, books and tests run off on a mimeograph machine and teachers who taught and corrected the assignments within a day?

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