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District dropped from statewide Safe and Supportive Schools study

SOLON– Scoring 32 out of 36 puts Solon High School in a healthy, safe and optimal learning climate according to a report card from the state that analyzed student engagement, school environment and safety.
Solon was among 47 high schools randomly selected in 2011 to participate in the Safe and Supportive Schools Program, a potential four-year grant funded by federal education dollars and administered by the Iowa Department of Education.
Solon was in the top three amongst those surveyed last year, and for the district’s director of instruction, Matt Townsley, it makes his job a little easier.
He said a variety of reasons likely contribute to Solon’s culture of learning. Townsley credited past and present administrations, the campus culture at Solon High, and the school’s welcoming environment from the classrooms to the parking lot. That environment, he said, allows the teachers to set a high level of expectation for senior high academics.
Townsley said the schools would follow up in another four years and still have not decided how to use the bulk of the $4,000 granted to conduct the initial survey.
Because of its high score, Solon will not qualify for additional grant funding.
The index of Iowa schools continues for some Iowa schools, with grant money used to improve the health of the schools that were selected to continue with the federal grant.
The index was administered by the Iowa Department of Education with the assistance of the National School Climate Center. The state will receive $14 million over the four-year grant process.
After the initial survey, 80 percent of the money is being used to support schools in eliminating bullying, alcohol abuse and other problems in schools.
Spartans surveyed scored just below the average state-wide percentage of alcohol consumption for teens.
According to the survey, over 20 percent of Solon student respondents said they took at least one drink in the past 30 days.
Almost six percent indicated they’d been drinking three to five days out of the last 30 and over three percent of survey participants said they’d consumed liquor in 20 to 30 days out of the last 30.
Townsley said the district continues to work with all students to “help them make decisions that will be beneficial to all aspects of their lives including their emotional well-being, relationships within the school community, and positive choices in and outside of school.”
The state survey warns schools against making decisions based on item-level data. Solon students completed the survey May 5, 2011.
Sixty Iowa schools were randomly selected to participate in the survey, 47 participated, and now 20 Iowa schools will receive federal money to continue working on their learning environments and increasing engagement in school communities.
More about the program can be found at www.safesupportiowa.com or www.educateiowa.gov.
Questions about the project can be directed to Matt Townsley, Director of Instruction and Technology at mtownsley@solon.k12.ia.us or 319-624-3401 x1352.