Ennis school board discusses staff survey, board training

At a relatively short monthly meeting last week, the Ennis School Board prioritized board training options, looked over results from a staff survey on the positive and negative aspects of the Ennis Schools and discussed moving back to a standard 10-point grading scale.

Ennis superintendent John Overstreet asked the board members to look over board training topics from the Montana School Board Association. The board members generally agreed that training on four topics would be good. The topics for training will be: trustee and board duties, board and superintendent relationships, board and community relationships, and how to handle community complaints.

Overstreet said he would work with the board to get the training scheduled and discussed doing it in an afternoon with a dinner break.

Overstreet also presented the board with the results of a staff survey he completed with all the teachers at the school. The idea was to see where the teachers felt the school was excelling and what things still needed work.

The top six vote getters for positives at the Ennis Schools were: staff, students, administration, new school, technology and small class size.

The top vote getters for areas needing improvement were: technology issues, more professional development opportunities, teachers holding a grudge, more title one help, communications, student absenteeism, trust in the community.

Given the controversy surrounding the school in the past three years, Overstreet didn’t seem surprised that some of that was pointed to for improvement, but he sees things getting better.

“I do feel teachers are sincere and ready to move on,” he said.

And the fact is trust in the community is just going to take some time to earn back, Overstreet said.

“That probably bothers me more than the money issues,” he said. “It (trust) was lost over a two or three year period and it’s going to take a couple years to get it back.”

In other news, Ennis High School Superintendent John Sullivan discussed the idea of bringing back a standard 10-point grading system.

Sullivan polled 11 other schools districts in southwest Montana, both large and small and all of them had the 10-point system.

“It’s something I think we should consider looking at,” Sullivan said.

The grading scale would be simpler: 90-100 would be an A, 80-90 would be a B and so on.

Ennis is currently on a system that offers plus and minus grades.

The increased rigor of the curriculum at Ennis Schools in the motivator behind changing the scale, Sullivan said. Ennis is offering a wide variety of advanced placement courses and a 10-point grading scale would give students a more even playing field.

“Basically, the rigor of our curriculum in the high school is making us look at this change,” he said.

The board took no action Monday on the idea.

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