PRIEST RIVER — The West Bonner County School Board unanimously approved three proposed science curriculums at the Dec. 15 meeting.
A committee formed of WBCSD educators and community members first met in April 2021. The committee reviewed 77 sample curriculum from the state list of curriculums vetted by the state curriculum committee.
Teachers across the district had the opportunity to review the curriculum choices and provide feedback to the committee in September and October. The total cost for the curriculum is expected to be $151,257.27 for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
On Oct. 26, a community open house was held at the district office.
Michelle Barnes, fourth grade teacher at Priest Lake Elementary and a committee member, presented the curriculum proposal to the board at the meeting.
“[At the community open house] There was no further input from the community as we were the only ones there,” she said.
As there was no input from the community, Barnes said the proposal is based on the committee’s knowledge as community members and teachers.
For grades K-5, the science curriculum will be the Carolina Building Blocks. An interactive curriculum with a variety of activities, Barnes said it is age appropriate and meets Idaho State Standards.
The curriculum includes learning kits with supplies and hands-on activities as well as online resources and support. The publisher is Carolina Biological Supply Company and the curriculum costs $60,318.90.
For sixth through eighth grade, the science curriculum is from Amplify and costs $45,219.87. It meets Idaho education standards and is a phenomena-based approach curriculum with unique interactive activities throughout, said Barnes.
In addition, there are interactive videos on body systems and other topics, which provide in-depth learning opportunities. As an example, one of the videos is on testing blood levels, she said.
Trustee Magaret Hall said she was concerned about the digital component and asked if it would negatively affect students who did not have internet access at home.
Superintendent Paul Anselmo clarified that this digital aspect of the curriculum would be used in class and that printouts and reading material would be printed at school for students to take home.
Barnes added that due to the six-year online subscription for all the curriculums, it gives the district access to updates. Content and ease of use were among the areas considered by the committee when reviewing the curriculums, she added.
She said that the science curriculums that committee proposed went above and beyond, focusing on state standards and what employers want versus a traditional education approach that is textbook heavy.
At the high school level, there were two curriculum recommendations. BioZone which costs $43,104 and covers earth and space sciences for ninth grade, Biology for tenth grade, physical sciences for eleventh grade, and electives chemistry in the earth systems and physics of the universe. The two science electives are for graduation science, technology, engineering and math certifications.
There are two testing options provided, an online option that is similar to state testing, and Examview, which teachers are familiar with, said Barnes. Both include teacher resources that can be modified by the teacher to match instruction, she added.
Barnes said students will be able to take notes in their textbook and complete work assignments in them. Textbooks will be replaced every year for the next student. Math standards are also integrated into the science curriculum when appropriated, she added.
The second curriculum for high school is Cengage, which is under the National Geographic umbrella and costs $2,614.50. It meets Idaho science standards and covers anatomy and physiology.
Since the curriculum is digital and not a physical textbook that cannot be updated, Trustee Troy Renihold asked what the district would do in the future if they no longer liked the content.
Anslemo said he imagined the district could leave the contract if there were drastic changes made to the curriculum. However, he said he did not expect the curriculum to change a lot in the next few years.
“All these programs are not the end-all, be-all for what teachers teach. They provide resources for them,” said Anselmo. “If there are parts in there that don’t meet standards or are topics that the Legislature says we don’t teach in Idaho then they [will not be taught].”
“Our job as the district is to ensure we are teaching what the legislature of the state of Idaho has told us to teach,” he said.
The total cost of the new science curriculums for the next six year is $151,257.27. This includes the online resources and differentiated instructional support for all grades.
Professional development time will be provided to the teachers in support of an effective roll out, said Barnes.
For the curriculums that first year of consumable costs will be covered by the kits and other lab/experiment equipment the curriculum will be provided. The superintendent and the board discussed replacing lab and learning activity consumables by either reordering replacement parts from the curriculum providers or outside sources. There was discussion of their being room in the consumable budget to replace equipment annually.
Regular WBCSD Board of Trustees meetings are be held the third Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m., at the WBCSD Administrative Office on 134 Main Street, Priest River. Meetings can be watched live or at a later time on the district’s Facebook page “West Bonner School District 83.”