State grant enables North Sanpete schools to adopt behavior program
By Linda Petersen
Sept. 28, 2017
MT. PLEASANT—A $37,500 state grant is helping North Sanpete School District to begin working on implementing a positive-behavior intervention system for all five of its elementary schools and North Sanpete Middle School.
The overarching goal of the program is to provide a safe environment for all students. The grant pays for a University of Utah consultant to work with administrators and teachers to implement the plan.
The system, which is being developed by teams on both district and school levels, uses a three-tiered approach. In the first tier, which is the general student population, all students are taught relational skills, and positive behaviors are reinforced through a reward system.
In the second tier, additional help is provided to students who exhibit at-risk behavior. The hope is that if at-risk kids can be identified earlier, more serious problems can be prevented later on.
In the third tier, which is a very small group of students who exhibit aggressive behavior, perhaps one to two per school, students receive hands-on, individual support.
Special Education Director Chalyece Shelley applied for a first-tier grant on behalf of the entire school district. The grant is for one year, but the program is expected to take two to three years “to become solidified in the culture of the school,” Shelley said.
A condition of the grant is that the school district have a sustainable program in place after the funding has been spent.
The first step in the new program is to implement a behavior tracking data-system and instructing teachers how to use it. Once that data is available, administrators, office staff and teachers will use it to target their resources and provide individual support to students who are struggling behaviorally. The goal of the program is to help those students stay in class, and to provide them with extra support.
The program also provides classroom management and skills training for teachers, which covers the setting up of rules, expectations and positive-reward systems. They will also be taught how to implement behavior plans that outline how teachers will address inappropriate behaviors, when to involve parents, and what the consequences of continued unacceptable behavior will be.
“Over the past couple of years, we’ve had quite a few new teachers who are more inexperienced come into our schools. We’re trying to provide training for them so they feel like they have support in dealing with these types of issues,” Shelley said.
In preparation for launching the program, information has been given to teachers, school board members and parents, making them aware of how behavioral issues will be handled going forward. District officials hope to have all three tiers of the program up and running by the end of the school year, Shelley said. From there, it will continue to be implemented next year until it becomes a “smooth and natural system in our schools,” she said.
If the funding is available next year, the district will reapply for a second year, and, if approved, will use the grant monies to provide “focused and intensive help for the students that need it the most,” Shelley said.
Along with paying for a consultant, the grant has paid for the onetime purchase of a special curriculum.
“We hope we start seeing a more positive culture in our schools,” said Shelley, who said the problems addressed by the new system are not unique to North Sanpete, but are 21st-century challenges faced by school districts everywhere.
“In our area, we’re facing harder problems than in the past. There’s a high poverty level, a lot of mobility, 50 percent of our students are in split families. All of these social problems are impacting our kids. The problems we’re seeing kids faced with seem to be getting worse,” she said. “We’re also seeing a few more kids with disabilities—that has been the trend for six or seven years.”
Implementing the program is an effort to be proactive and “prevent issues that could bring schools down,” Shelley said. “We’re trying to provide the best educational experience we can for our students. The resources in small, rural schools are limited. Any time we have an opportunity like this, we want to take advantage of that.”