Teacher goes to bat for pet program; high school council raises fees
by Eric Snyder -- esnyder@cadizrecord.com
Apr 12, 2006 | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A high school English teacher and reading tutor offered to demote herself to part-time — taking a pay-cut in the process — to continue working with students who are reading below their grade level at the April 10 meeting of the high school Site-Based Decision Making Council.

“I feel like this is my baby,” Vickie Castoff said, “I want to see it through.”

When Cotthoff tested the 204 current freshmen in August, 102 tested below grade level — 34 of them by three years or more.

As of January, after intensive tutoring, the number of students who read below grade level was reduced to 78.

“That’s still a huge number,” Cotthoff said. She expected the number to be reduced to about 60 by the end of this school year.

Cotthoff said it wouldn’t make sense to have invested in her salary and other periphery expenses to turn around and allow the 60 remaining students to enter the school’s “general population” without further remediation.

Cotthoff requested that the SBDM consider hiring a teacher that would teach three classes of 20 students (or four of 15) to continue giving the students assistance with their reading.

This would also allow upper-classmen in the school to receive more thorough help. She said such students are currently only receiving “a very small band-aid” during club-meeting days.

“If we’re going to work with them for a year and drop them,” Cotthoff said, “I don’t know” why we worked with them at all.

“It’s not a quick fix and we knew that going in,” she said.

Though the school’s staffing allocation of 32.5 teachers is based solely on the number of positions — not the amount of money required to pay them — Cotthoff offered to only work part-time so that she and the additional teacher could both work for what the school currently pays Cotthoff.

The SBDM, who received its staffing allocation for the school’s special-education program Monday night — the “final piece of the picture” as Principal Sharon Knight described it, it was reduced from 6.25 to 5.25 teachers for the 2006-2007 school year — did not immediately act on Cotthoff’s request.

In other action, the SBDM approved several fee increases for next year, though only two will affect all students.

“Fees are astronomical, I know they are,” said an apologetic Knight before going through the requests made by individual teachers, all of which were eventually approved by the council.

For the rest of this story, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.
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