WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     WWG — A public meeting was held prior to the regular meeting last Monday evening. The purpose of the public meeting was to discuss the pros and cons of the  Flexible Learning Year, along with some discussion of a state mandated program called the “Worlds Best Work Force.”

    The  meeting was comprised of a few community members, school staff, and board members.

    Prior to the meeting, a sheet was  handed out with FLY feedback and information about the “Worlds Best Work Force.”

    The sheet listed pros and cons of Early Start: Pros - Works with fall sports, more time prior to testing.         Cons - Does it really help test scores? Conflicts with family vacations, heat.

    Break before Christmas: Pros - Worked great. More time to prep for second semester, kids have no homework.

    Cons - Stressful to finish up semester on  time. Still some kids making up work, hard to help failing kids. Doesn’t effect elementary.

    Early out in May - Pros: Great for rock picking students and some other jobs. Students shut down either way when weather gets nice.

    Cons - Messes with spring sports’ schedules with  students participating after school ends. Too many events have to be squeezed together. Hurts Memorial Day programs. No common calendar with several neighboring schools.

    Professional Learning Communities: Pros - Excellent time to work together  on  standards. Formal idea and resource sharing excellent.

    Cons - Extra paper work. Not currently enough time to plan and operate groups.

    Mentoring: Pros - Great program, good to share.

    Cons - Some prep time lost trying to do the FLY activities. Not the same schedule as neighboring schools. (Tracy, MCC, Fulda, Wabasso, and Red Rock Central are not in the FLY.)

    Other: Testing - cost of belonging to FLY, and need for more common planning time.    

    The results of a survey taken earlier at the elementary school and the high school showed that the elementary staff showed a much stronger preference, by a 2 to 1 margin, to continue with the FLY. The high school campus showed a slightly higher preference to discontinue the FLY.

    The elementary had 32 staff members respond while the high school staff only had 16 members responding to the survey.

    Along with the FLY survey, was a report about initiatives outlined for developing a plan to implement the new state mandated program “Worlds Best Work Force”. The program is designed to take the place of the former “No Child Left Behind” program.

    A District Advisory Committee is being set up to help develop a plan to meet the requirements of the new program.

    Superintendent Loy Woelber told the group that no one really knows just what the State Board of Education means by the “Worlds Best Work Force,” it will be a work in progress. He pointed out several of the goals of the program.

    1. To  close the achievement gap between all racial and ethnic groups, and the gap between students living in poverty, and those who are more privileged.

    2. To close the gap, the academic gap, among students  with special education services and those not receiving   special education service.

    3. Have all  students reach school readiness goals.

    4. Have all third grade students achieve grade level literacy.

    5. Have all students graduate from high school.

    6. Have all students attain college and career readiness.

    The advisory committee will be meeting throughout the year to help develop a program to achieve these goals.

    Following the Fly and Best Work Force meeting, superintendent Woelber opened the regular meeting to reorganize the board for 2014, calling for a nomination for board chairman. Marvin Kleven  was named as chairman for 2014. At that point Kleven took over the meeting.

    Tim Helmer was named vice chair, Kerry Knakmuhs was named treasurer, and Ginny Barron was named as board clerk.

    The question  came up about extra compensation for board members that have to take time off work to do board functions. The board decided to pay board members at the same rate as substitute teachers. However the board member must submit a bill to the clerk in order to be paid. The board approved the measure along with using the government rate for mileage reimbursement.

    The following appointments were made for board committees: MSBA Legislative Representative - Ginny Barron. Continuing Education and curricular and staff development - Maydra Maas, Greg Madson, and Ginny Barron. Negotiations Personnel & Admin. - Marvin  Kleven, Tim Helmer, and Ginny Barron. Negotiations Alternate. - Bruce Jorgenson. Redwood collaborative. - Maydra Maas, alternate Kerry Knakmuhs. Cottonwood collaborative & Tri-county Day Treatment - Greg Madson,  alternate Loy Woelber. Buildings & grounds/safety committee - Kerry Knakmuhs, Bruce Jorgenson, and Marv Kleven. Transportation - Maydra Maas, Marvin Kleven and Kerry Knakmuhs. Technology - Tim Helmer,  Kerry Knakmuhs, and Greg Madson. Meet and Confer - Maydra Maas, Ginny Barron, and Bruce Jorgenson. Community Education - Maydra Maas and Greg Madson. MREA representative - Marvin Kleven. MSHSL representative - Tim Helmer and Loy Woelber. SWWC Service Cooperative - Maydra Maas.

    Athletic Director Leo Theisen gave his report. He noted the MSHSL passed the new football “District” scheduling to go into effect in 2015.

    He told the board all present conferences will be eliminated, and schools will be put  into 16-20 district groupings for the 2015 season.

    Also in 2015 the season will start one week early to accommodate the playoff schedule for the 2015 Prep Bowl that will be played at TCF Stadium at the University of Minnesota.

    Theisen announced winter sections schedule. Wrestling sections begin February 11; boys basketball sections begin February 22; and girls basketball sections begin February 27.

    Elementary Principal Paul Olson gave his report. In the elementary a new award has been created for students that do good things, like holding doors for people or helping others in the classroom. It is called the  Lightning Award. He noted it is having a positive affect on how our students act in school.

    They are working on a student back pack program. The idea is to send a back pack with food for kids to take home over the weekend. Olson mentioned they are looking into grants to help fund the program.

    They are looking at extending their After School Academy in March. The program would be extended to four days in March to help kids prepare for State Testing. The program is a voluntary program.

    The Youth Wrestling Tournament will held in Walnut Grove Friday evening February 7.

    Junior and senior high school  Principal Bill Richards told the board NWEA testing will begin soon. It gives a better idea of student progress because it is done twice during  the school year.

    Students 9-11 will go to Minneapolis to the Science Museum and the Ordway Theater. Busing for the trip is paid for by the Ordway Theater.

    Richards also talked about the live streaming of the one act play. The theater department presented the play last week for the public and at Pipestone for the One Act Play competition.

    Superintendent Woelber gave his report.

    He  noted a good In Service Workshop was held January 2 for both elementary and  high school.

    He said the winter  has not been too bad for snow removal, but it has mainly been a problem with the cold and wind.

    Woelber was able to pickup 100 red upholstered folding chairs, for $10 a piece, from the Metro Dome, apparently they were used only once for the Republican Convention.

    Woelber told the board it’s hard to make the call on the weather related closings. “A lot of these kids really need to be in school.” A couple of board members mentioned that they would rather err on  the side of safety for the kids.

    Ginny Barron made a motion to withdraw from the Flexible Learning Year.  The motion died for lack of a second. So the district will remain in the Fly for the final two years.

    Woelber told the board with a few extra kids coming into the district, their budget is looking better. The budget deficit has been reduced by about $15,000,  and their projected fund balance has increased significantly. Woelber said, “looking at our present budget I don’t think we will need to make any cuts for next year.”

    The following items were approved.

    • 2013-2014 revised budget with total revenues of 5,931,345.43 and total expenditures of $6,016,748.00.

    • Declaring surplus equipment and instruct Supt. Woelber to advertise and sell. Staking chairs, ice cream machine, 8ft folding tables, glass fan backboards, fuel oil barrel, bus tires, gas pump.

    • Resolution directing the administration to make recommendations for reductions in programs and positions and reasons therefor.

    • Declare necessary makeup for snow days.