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Curriculum changes set in motion by public

2010-08-11T00:00:00Z Curriculum changes set in motion by publicBy ALANA LISTOE Independent Record Helena Independent Record
August 11, 2010 12:00 am  • 

A concern voiced by opponents of the proposed Helena School District health enhancement curriculum is that not enough nondistrict employees were members of the committee that met for two years to develop the 62-page draft document.

But that’s not changing the process already set in motion, and Superintendent Bruce Messinger told school board members and the 100 people who attended a meeting Tuesday night that he’ll work to make changes to the proposed health curriculum.

The document generated strong community reaction mostly centered on the human sexuality portion, and Messinger said that’s where the majority of the changes will be made.

“This is how the process works with curriculum,” board chair Michael O’Neil said. “We’ve received vibrant community conversations, and at this stage we are trying to incorporate the work of the committee … Bruce is trying to synthesize.”

The committee completed its part, and it is now in the board’s hands, O’Neil said.

“(The committee) gave it their best shot,” Messinger said. “It was their best thinking, so my sense is it’s now in our court.”

O’Neil said school officials are not going back to the drawing board, but rather resetting the public process so comments can be considered. Originally, the plan was to approve the curriculum this month so an implementation plan could be developed this year. But due to the enormous response from the community, they’ve slowed that process to provide trustees time to consider the thousands of letters and e-mails in support and in opposition of the proposed document.

Messinger said those comments, suggestions and criticism have some patterns, so the changes will focus on those points. For example, the age appropriateness of some content, particularly at the elementary level, came into question.

Messinger said he won’t make the decisions in isolation, and intends to seek input from school nurses and the County Health Department. He said it would be difficult to decide who to invite to the table if it were opened up to new people. No matter what that final draft entails, he said, some will likely remain unhappy.

The changes to the draft will be presented to trustees at the Sept. 14 board meeting. A public hearing is planned some time before the Oct. 12 meeting, during which the board will take final action. A date has yet to be set for the public hearing because school officials are working to provide a larger location than the Front Street Learning Center. At the last public hearing on the health curriculum, hundreds of people had to listen to the meeting from speakers set up outside.

O’Neil didn’t allow comments to be made on the curriculum because, per state statute, no public comment is accepted regarding items that are on the agenda. He did remind the audience at Tuesday’s meeting that the public comment period is still open and letters and e-mails are welcome.

He added that although the district will still have a two-minute time limit per person at the public hearing next month, the board has no intention of limiting the number of people who are allowed to speak. At the last public hearing both sides of the issue — proponents and opponents — were limited to an hour each, which allowed for 64 people to speak.

Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or alana.listoe@helenair.com

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

  1. abodox33
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    abodox33 - August 12, 2010 10:27 am
    I don't really like calculus either! And I really don't care if Helena High gets new football uniforms next year or not. But I am not going to gripe about it just because I pay taxes towards them.

    I don't like unreasonable taxes and can appreciate purple's viewpoints on wanting to know where and how our taxpayer money is being allocated. It is our right and responsibility to know. But sometimes you have to see the forest through the trees and pick your battles. Mailing out the program documents will cost taxpayer money too. And if every taxpayer actually took the time to THOROUGHLY analyze every decision that was ever made in our country, we would have a rather unproductive society...
  2. The Big L
    Report Abuse
    The Big L - August 12, 2010 7:29 am
    A little hypocritical of you to expect the school district to pay the cost of mailing out to all the taxpayers isn't it? That would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. Why don't you just read it online?
  3. jo_griz
    Report Abuse
    jo_griz - August 11, 2010 8:28 pm
    @ Purple--its available to read online and has been at least since this first hit the newspapers. I'm a little shocked that you don't seem to know that though. I guess that would explain the dozens of misguided comments you have left on these boards, though.
    Matt--thank you for sharing your accurate grasp of democracy in this country! We the people don't vote on every single minute decision placed before the government. We elect officials to do that so we can move on and attend to our lives. When election time comes, we get to vote in new people if we so choose. Apparently Purple needs some remedial high school government classes.
  4. HLNMTALLMYLIFE
    Report Abuse
    HLNMTALLMYLIFE - August 11, 2010 6:07 pm
    Purple said: "Before this is voted upon, it should be mailed out to every taxpayer so they can review it FIRST so they can decide if this should pass.Even better, include this curriculum in the NOVEMBER ballot so that those who ultimately PAY FOR IT have the final say, since those in the public school system have already proven they cannot be trusted."

    You need to just look it up online instead of costing the taxpayers any more money, ITS BEEN ON THE PUBLIC SCHOOL WEBSITE FOR A VERY LONG TIME FOR ANYONE TO READ! Doh!

    Google, Helena Public Schools, its on there website!
  5. Purple
    Report Abuse
    Purple - August 11, 2010 1:28 pm
    skysthelimit said: "All people speaking at the meeting should be required to READ the proposal rather than spout off based on what they've HEARD about the proposal. "

    Shouldn't politicians also HAVE TO READ bills in their entirety before voting for them? Imagine how many fewer bills would come up for a vote since it would take them many weeks to just read a 2500 page bill.


  6. matt
    Report Abuse
    matt - August 11, 2010 11:08 am
    Purple,
    If you would foot the bill to have a curriculum mailed to every taxpayer in the school district I think that would be a great idea. As far as voting on the curriculum that is taught in schools, I think we should vote on the constitution being taught, what about caculus i always hated that class.
  7. justme59601
    Report Abuse
    justme59601 - August 11, 2010 9:32 am
    skysthelimit said: "All people speaking at the meeting should be required to READ the proposal rather than spout off based on what they've HEARD about the proposal. "

    just to be clear, that goes for both those who oppose and support this proposal.
  8. skysthelimit
    Report Abuse
    skysthelimit - August 11, 2010 2:41 am
    All people speaking at the meeting should be required to READ the proposal rather than spout off based on what they've HEARD about the proposal.
  9. Purple
    Report Abuse
    Purple - August 11, 2010 1:07 am
    Before this is voted upon, it should be mailed out to every taxpayer so they can review it FIRST so they can decide if this should pass.

    Even better, include this curriculum in the NOVEMBER ballot so that those who ultimately PAY FOR IT have the final say, since those in the public school system have already proven they cannot be trusted.

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