CLINTON — “Scary” was one word used regarding a local report from 2008 Iowa Youth Survey during this week’s Clinton School Board meeting.

Assistant Superintendent Deb Olson gave highlights of the results at Monday’s meeting, based on self-report surveys taken locally and statewide by students in sixth, eighth and 11th grades last year. In one section of the lengthy questionnaire, students were asked how difficult it would be for a kid their age to get cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and weapons in their communities or neighborhoods.

The statistic school board members found most alarming was that nearly 20 percent of students said it would be “easy” or “very easy” for someone their age to access to a handgun.

“That’s a lot, that’s one out of five, and those things as a community we have to take very seriously,” said Superintendent Richard Basden. “It is scary that 20 percent of the kids thought that they could have access to a handgun.”

According to the Iowa Youth Survey, 19 percent of Clinton County students gave the response that someone their age could probably obtain a handgun. The statewide response was also 19 percent.

In 2005, when the survey was last administered, the local statistic was 20 percent, with 18 percent of students giving the same answer statewide.

In another section of the local 2008 survey, 75 percent of students said they feel safe at school. Basden said the schools in the district practice tight security measures at each location, although he and other officials said the school’s reach to kids can only go so far.

“Unfortunately, it’s not just the school that has to be involved,” said Olson, who reported that 71 percent of local students who took the survey believe adults in the community care about them. “We can affect kids once they’re in our four walls, but once they leave us, it’s up to the community. This is our next generation of children. If we value our community, we’ll help them grow into mature adults.”

Olson said the school district sponsors mentoring and outreach programs to do its part, but she added that it’s important for adults to get involved. She said parents should call their children’s schools and see how they can help, and attend the School District Advisory Committee meeting on Oct. 19. The meeting, which will run 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Clinton High School, is open to the public and will focus on problems the school district faces.

“This is something we don’t want to keep under wraps,” said Basden. “We want people to know about it. The goal is to get the information out, and to be aware of potential issues that could come up. We take security very seriously.”

Other business

Basden emphasized Monday that the district is making gains in its Adequate Yearly Progress numbers required by the No Child Left Behind Act. The district has met required attendance and graduation rates, and is mixed in its academic improvement status, with some areas steadily improving toward targeted goals.

“I think that the achievement information is crucial, because we are making gains,” said Basden. “We may not be where the state wants us, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

In other business, the board voted to approve the sale of the Building Trades House, built as a student project, for $54,000. The board also approved naming the press box at the Clinton High School baseball and softball stadium the Kehl-Fullick Press Box, in honor of the River King and Queen Athletic Booster Club’s support in the stadium renovation project.

The board also voted Monday to approve changes to how elementary report cards are presented to parents, with an emphasis on how the student’s progress is reported. Olson also announced the adoption of a new elementary spelling program districtwide. She said the district tested the program last year, with students in the test group for the new program scoring 20 percent higher than those who enrolled in the school’s former program.

Board member Wendy Krajnovich administered the annual oath of office to Secretary/Treasurer to Gayle Isaac, and the board selected Jim McGraw to represent the district at the annual Iowa Association of School Boards’ convention in November.

The board discussed rotating its meeting site among the district’s eight attendance centers, and will vote on the possibility at its next meeting Sept. 14. School board elections are Sept. 8, and the board’s reorganizational meeting will be held Oct. 12. Mercia Wolf, Dan Collins, Missey Sullivan-Pope, Gregg Obren and Jack Wenzel are running for the four open seats. Wolf is the only incumbent. Current board members Thea Engleson, Wendy Krajnovich and Joani Kittoe are not running again.

The board briefly went into closed session near the end of Monday’s meeting to confidentially discuss the purchase of new real estate by the school district.

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