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September 24, 2013
School board talks dances
Mandy Dibble representing the student council asked for direction concerning school dances
WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) -- WWG — Student Council adviso,r Mandy Dibble, asked the board for direction concerning school dances. She thought the idea of formal dances has a part in less than 50 percent of the students participating. She noted there is a significant widening gap in socio economic status of students.
The board agreed that in looking at the number of students on free and reduced status that is very true.
Earlier the administration felt that Spring Fling will no longer be held due to the FLY late start - early out schedule. So it was determined that going back to a Snow Week format would probably work better. Also the elimination of coronation and a grand march might help encourage students to take part in a dance.
The board felt that the idea of a formal dance had turned into essentially a prom, and felt it is just to expensive for a lot of our students. The board stopped short of mandating a complete change, but were on record of supporting cutting back on the cost.
Dibble also felt other things should be cut out, things like special entertainment. She noted last year they paid about $800 for a hypnotist to perform for less than an hour. She also noted that the high cost has created some segregation of our white kids and kids of color. She clarified that statement saying the kids get along fine during school hours, it is only in some extra curricular activities that participation is down.
The board also felt they would like to encourage integration of students in after school activities in general. They also felt advisors should emphasize cutting back on expenses, and stressed that all students should be encouraged to attend dances.
Marvin Kleven reported on a recent MSBA meeting he and Bruce Jorgenson attended. Kleven said one of the issues was funding of TRA. He said the TRA board is made up mostly by retired teachers, that had increased the compensation rate by double digits for about six years in a row.
Kleven offered a resolution about TRA contributions. It states that any increases to the TRA should be shared equally by the teachers and the board. He asked the board to support his resolution, which would be proposed to the legislature. The board went on record supporting the resolution.
Sheryl Woelber and Mandy Dibble discussed the math program at the high school and junior high.
Woelber told the board she will be implementing an accelerated math program for her seventh and eighth grade students. She also noted since the elementary students have had eccelerated math the kids are coming in more advanced.
Woelber also teaches Geometry, and noted it is a real plus having the portable computer lab.
A new math tech class is working out very well for special ed students — it is working out quite well and it can help them to get into the main stream class.
Dibble teaches the higher math courses — Algebra 2, and college classes. She has 10 students in College Algebra. She also has students taking on line courses in Calculus and Trigonometry. “I try to encourage students to take higher math courses in their senior year, she said, it also makes it easier for them in college.”
Spanish teacher Jenna Hafner asked the board to get on board as a sponsor of a Spanish trip to Costa Rica. Hafner showed the board a short video highlighting trips to that country.
The trip is a 9 day trip to central America, she said there are 8 students signed up for the trip. The $2,515 trip is paid for by the students and their families. There is no fund raising by students. The trip is scheduled for June so there will be no conflicts with school time. There also is an option to earn college credit while there.
The board asked questions about safety and liability for the school. She told them Costa Rica is a very safe country for foreign visitors, and the company they are going with has a 15 million dollar liability policy for each student. The cost is very competitive and covers everything except one meal a day.
She told the board she went on a similar trip to Spain, and it changed her life. Hafner said, “I feel it would definitely impact students that take the trip.”
The board felt they needed more time to make a decision, and would consider it next month. They also suggested getting the community to be a sponsor.
Class advisor Sheryl Woelber reported the senior class trip is scheduled for April 17 and will be a similar trip as last year with visits to New York, and Washington D.C. The trip will cost $1,450. There are 31 of 38 kids signed up to go.
High school principal Bill Richards reported NWEA testing is almost complete. He noted, unlike the state tests, these show whether students are progressing or not.
Homecoming is scheduled for September 23 through 27.
The fall Open House Conferences were well attended.
Richards told the board, year book purchases are down and costs are not covered by sales and ad revenue. Richards told the board they are losing about $1,000 and are selling 55 books. We do get very good support from the community from the ads, we get about $2,000. Richards said he would keep trying to find cheaper alternatives.
Richards also told the board they are getting a $2,000 grant from SMACH to help finance the Region 3 Visual Arts competition in
Superintendent Loy Woelber told the board he is working on setting up a principal evaluation.
He also said they have three people taking bus driving tests. He, Paul Olson, and Marv Kleven have been helping out with the driving. He told the board, in addition to the regular buses and shuttles, there are five minivans running every day. Woelber said we purchased another used van
Woelber told the board of the move of the fitness center at Walnut Grove . “It has turned out great — I couldn’t be happier with it,” Woelber said. He felt the new entry system will work really good.
He commented, the district managed fairly well during the hot days by using air conditioned areas for some of the classes, and only had one early out.
The board approved the preliminary levy for pay 2014. Woelber said the district could levy up to $475,850 but will probably only levy about $440,000 for the final levy. He said, “we are the only school that does not levy the maximum amount.”
The board approved 125 flexible benefits plan as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act of 2010.
A student that did not receive a diploma due to faulty state requirements was granted a diploma by the board.
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