Supporters ‘AVID’ about program

SAISD 834 logoFamily, friends and teachers of the Advancement Via Individual Determination program (AVID) filled the Stillwater City Hall council chambers Thursday in a show of support for the program.

ISD 834 Coordinator of Equity and Integration Eric Anderson presented an update on the program to school board members. AVID is a program at Stillwater and Oak-Land junior high schools that aims to close students’ achievement gaps by preparing all students for college readiness.

“What we want to do is support kids with the determination and desire to do well that have untapped learning potential right now,” said AVID teacher Jo Tate.
Other criteria are included for AVID students is average to high test scores, a 2.0 to 3.5 grade-point average and has college potential with support. Some AVID students would be the first generation in their families to attend college.

AVID teaches students who might have organizational, note-taking, reading comprehension and homework  difficulties how to learn. The program provides students with tutoring and guidance so they can advance to, and through college.
Anderson reported that 48 AVID students are currently enrolled in Honors English, a more rigorous class than they’re used to. He said 93 percent of those AVID students earned a grade of C or better in that class while most received Bs and 35 percent of AVID students increased their GPA last semester.

Some students spoke at the meeting about the difference AVID has made for them in college preparation, setting goals and improving grades. They also spoke of the great support they get from their families, teachers and other AVID students.
“What we have in this program is 36 kids succeeding,” said Oak-Land seventh-grader Diana Luna Ramirez. “My AVID teacher has never told me that she’s too busy to help me and I believe that she’s one of the best teachers I’ve had in my schooling. When I need a little push she’s there and I hope to stick with AVID throughout high school. We are also taught how to make goals in AVID, mine are to make A honor roll at the end of next semester and in five years I hope to go to the university I want to attend. Thank you for helping me succeed.”

Also at Thursday’s school board learning session and meeting the board:

  •  Approved the entire HealthPartners contract for the district’s new on-site health clinic at Stillwater Area High School. The clinic’s goal is providing care to ISD 834s employees and their dependents at a lower cost to the district and taxpayers. The contract was discussed at the last board meeting and brought forward again after talks occurred about the contract’s $7,000 management fees. The clinic is expected to save the district $279,000 annually in decreased absenteeism costs, pre-work screening costs, decreased worker’s comp costs and a decrease in premiums for the insurance carrier provided that those who are able to use the clinic do so. The clinic’s total operating costs are $286,000 a year while the renovation of old classrooms for the clinic will cost $106,350. Construction on the clinic is slated to begin over spring break next month.
  • Approved the Comprehensive Diversity Plan for 2013-2014 presented by Anderson.
  • Discussed the new strategic plan and action plans. The action plans will be presented at the Feb. 21 board meeting.