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Education Officials Eye Proactive Approach to Reducing School Violence

Feb. 16, 2007 — Finding strategies to deal with increased school violence was the main topic of discussion Thursday at a special meeting of the Board of Education at the Educational Curriculum Center in Kingshill.
During the meeting, Department of Education officials also updated the board on the condition of public schools and the summer maintenance plan.
Acting Commissioner of Education Lauren Larsen said that, as early as kindergarten, some students are exhibiting challenging behaviors that require increased teacher attention and that these behaviors set the standard for more chronic and pervasive problems in school and life.
Larsen said the department is considering developing a Positive Behavior Support system in the schools. The program has a multileveled approach to prevention and support, with each level being more focused and intensive than the previous level. While level one focuses on monitoring and preventing problem behaviors in all students, the second level provides more intense strategies for students not responding to level one. The third level is directed at preventing major crises and failures.
According to a positive behavior support website, the program is proactive, reinforcing positive social behavior as a part of the students' educational experience.
Additionally, the department intends to expand the Positive Behavior Intervention System, which was piloted in several elementary schools. In response to a question from board member Nereida Rivera O'Reilly, acting St. Croix Superintendent Jewel Brathwaite said the results are being tracked and the program is working.
The board also reported on the condition of the public schools, noting that repairs to the Charlotte Amalie High School gymnasium are scheduled to be complete in June, while repairs to the Ivanna Eudora Kean gym will be completed in two phases; the first will halt structural leaks, and the second phase will be the actual repairs. Officials did not give a specific date for completion.
At John H. Woodson School, officials noted that repairs to the roof and drainage are 95 percent complete and bids to complete the auditorium are scheduled for Feb. 20.
The department is developing plans to repair Elena Christian's gym, D-wing, music suite and science labs. Some items will be addressed in-house, while other will be addressed under the summer maintenance program, according to Larsen.
The department will utilize the same strategy it did last year to identify and address maintenance needs over the summer, Larsen said. Principals have to submit maintenance requests according to deadlines set by the department. Larsen said in order to complete maintenance before the new school year begins, the department needs to stick to an "aggressive timeline."
All board members were present at the meeting.

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