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Swan River School Accreditation on the Line
9 percent of schools in the state have deficient accreditation
This month, the Montana Office of Public Instruction will begin gathering school accreditation data and Swan River School principal Marc Bunker is busy making sure his school makes the grade.

For the past three years, the small school east of Bigfork has received deficiencies in its state accreditation. The shortfalls were the topic of a recent school board meeting.

“I wouldn’t say we’re close to losing (accreditation), but our concern is that our school could receive another deviation,” Bunker said. “There are a lot of things involved with accreditation.”

The accreditation rules set forth by the department of instruction ensure that schools are meeting education standards and still qualify for state funding. According to Montana OPI, 9 percent of schools in the state have deficient accreditation. During the 2007–2008 school year, 16 percent of schools were deficient. Reasons for deficiencies include non-licensed staff members, mis-assigned teachers or a lack of library or counseling services.

According to Bunker and Montana OPI, the Swan River School was marked down because it employed an unlicensed teacher, had assigned a teacher to a class they were not qualified to teach, lacked a full-time librarian and had a class with too many students. Swan River was one of four schools in Flathead County to be marked with “deficiency” in Montana OPI’s 2011–2012 school accreditation report released earlier this year. The other schools included West Valley, Muldown Elementary and Whitefish Middle School.

Bunker said teachers have been reassigned to different classes and the one who was not licensed to teach a specific class, in this case a social studies course, is currently taking classes through the University of Montana. He said she would earn that qualification soon. He said since last year, the class size issues have been resolved, although crowded classrooms are something the school will keep an eye on in the future. He also said the school was looking to hire a fulltime librarian and music teacher.

“We’re making sure to restore full accreditation of our school and then maintain it in the future,” he said.
On 10-03-12, HP commented....
As the master ship sinks into the ocean the administrators worry about lifesavers in the dingy
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