WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     WWG — Superintendent Loy Woelber discussed needs for special ed. We have done a case load analysis of special ed in the elementary school. “It shows over 50 percent of our students are currently on a IEP (individual education plan) said,” Woelber. “In the elementary school we will have the highest incidence of individual one on one Para’s that we have ever had.”

    Woelber is recommending the board to hire a special ed teacher just to handle testing and tracking of students. This would allow classroom teachers to devote more of their time to working directly with special ed students. We receive funding for about half of their time from the federal government.

    The “World’s Best Workforce” is a plan cooked up by the State Department  of  Education to replace the “No Child Left Behind plan” which has fallen short of it’s good intentions.

    Woelber said, the “World’s

Best Workforce” is something we have been addressing for years. One part of the plan is to close the achievement gap between ethnic and white students. “That really is not the case for us — in the metro area this is a bigger problem than out here. Even though we have a high population of asian students, we really do not have an achievement gap between them and white students,” he said. “Out here it is different — the gap is between  the haves (sic) and have nots(sic)— regardless of race. We simply do not have an ethnic gap in this area.” Unfortunately the new plan does not really address this problem.

    Woelber also commented to meet Integration requirements of the Worlds Best Workforce, juniors from the F.L.Y. will meet in Marshall to take a prep test for the ACT tests this spring.

    The  Student Government class was in attendance at the meeting. Woelber welcomed the class and explained that the board is a reflection of the  communities and is a good example of grass roots government.

    Senior class president Steven Yang gave a report on the class trip. He said they will be leaving April 16 and will be spending time in Washington D.C. and New York City. They will spend six days touring various historical sites. Fellow student Matt Otto commented he was looking forward to the trip and seeing things they have never seen before.

    Elementary principal Paul Olson reported the summer lunch program will start during summer vacation. Olson also commented that this year we are looking into a similar program for a supper meal which if adopted would run through out the  year. This program would be funded through state and federal money. However, Olson said, “at this time we are just looking into the possibility of doing this. There are a lot of what ifs (sic) to be determined before going into something like this.”

    There are about two more weeks left in the After School Academy program. After that finishes state testing will begin.

    High school and junior high school principal Bill Richards reported the junior high musical was done and live streamed on television. He also noted the spring high school play is in progress and will be presented next week.

    Richards touched briefly on Extra Duty Considerations for part time personnel.

    Board Chair and MREA representative Marv Kleven reported on meetings with Minnesota Legislators to discuss concerns of rural school districts.

    One  of the issues discussed was the ‘Donut Hole’. He explained that a couple of years ago  the legislature passed a law to give more money to school districts under 1000 enrollment. Then last year the legislature gave extra funding to schools over 2000 enrollment. The problem is that the schools in between also want consideration to match those above and below them. So MREA is asking the  legislature to provide equal funding for this Donut Hole group of Districts.

    Another issue involved addressing the Free and Reduced Lunch Program. Since their meeting the legislature passed a bill that will provide hot lunches for all kids to receive hot meals in Minnesota.

    He noted there has been a big push for a stronger anti-bullying law. The current law is only 37 words long, the proposed bill is over 10 pages long. MREA feels this bill is too long and will cost schools a lot more money.

    The Southwest and West Central Service Coop elected Maydra Maas as board chair.

    Woelber reported this year the school’s enrollment has held pretty steady, but he notes there is a lot of difference in class sizes that makes it difficult to address staffing needs.

    He talked about keeping the focus on technology. He feels they should spend about $20,000 at each school for ipads and laptops. The elementary seems to benefit more from ipads than laptops, but in the secondary students benefit more from laptops. Woelber asked the  students present if they felt the laptops were better in the high school and they responded positively that laptops were better than  desk tops.

    So it  is likely the elementary will get more ipads and the secondary will get more laptops with the capital outlay funds.

    Woelber told the  board they need to figure out what to do with the  sidewalks between the high school and the tech campus. The sidewalk near the high school is really in  need of replacement. However he questioned whether or not it should be replaced, and adding a sidewalk on the south side of the block between the two schools.

    The school calendar was presented for the board to look over. Final approval version will be presented at the April meeting.

    Approved hiring a half time person in the Westbrook Building from the collaborating of Greater Minnesota family services for $2,500 for the 2014-2015 school year.

    A resolution was passed for discontinuing and reducing educational programs and positions 1. music.

    The board accepted  the resignation of Spanish teacher Jenna Hafner and to advertise for a replacement.

    The board accepted the resignation of Sheryl Woelber as head girls basketball coach.

    Approval was given for snow makeup days. Students last day will be May 20 and employees will report the 21st and 22nd.