School Board Recognition Week was observed by the MN School Board Association Feb. 19 to 23. Mr. Cselovszki presented appreciation certificates to board members.
Last month, the school board heard a presentation from elementary school teachers about personalized learning—a learning and instructing strategy they were working to implement for math and language arts. Thursday evening, Feb. 22, the board held another lengthy discussion on the topic, as the staff want to know if they can continue planning to start using the strategy next school year.
Board members had hoped to visit a couple of schools that are using personalized learning, but haven’t been able to schedule those site visits yet. They do plan to visit schools in Chanhassen (high school) and Chaska (middle school) March 19 and an elementary school in Harrisburg, S.D. in April.
One of the sticking points for the school board is the question of when, or if, the high school would implement a similar strategy. Board member Casey Coulson said he wants a cohesive strategy through high school. He also emphasized that he does not have enough information and understanding yet, something he feels he will gain on the planned site visits. Coulson said he needs to be able to explain the program to parents and doesn’t feel he can at this point.
Brian Nelson said he likes the staff enthusiasm and would like to see them continue. He also agreed that continuity into the high school is important, especially that a planning process should begin. Bryan Sellner agreed with Coulson that he needs more information and a plan for the high school.
Superintendent and Elementary Principal John Cselovszki reminded the board that the high school needs to complete the transition to Standards Based Grading before taking on a new project. High School Principal Shane Laffen said some high school teachers have already started exploring how personalized learning could be implemented. He also pointed out that high school instruction is different than elementary, due to the students’ maturing process, “High school is a different animal.”
Cselovszki and teacher Jodi Arneson, the elementary school PLC (Professional Learning Community) leader, said the staff is already using the strategy to some degree. “It is really just like our interventions,” said Arneson. She said they work with struggling students to achieve proficiency on the standards, which often means having the student work on the standards from a lower grade level to help them make progress towards the standards for their current grade level.
“I had a girl come into my class this year [second grade] who was reading at a kindergarten level,” said Arneson, to illustrate how the strategy of being flexible with standards helps students. “With intervention, her reading has improved and she now tests at the third grade level.”
Arneson assured the board that the elementary staff is eager and willing to share their knowledge with the high school staff, while also agreeing with Laffen, “We are a different animal.”
In the end, the board directed the elementary staff to keep working on their plan—which at this point involves setting up a schedule with math, reading and writing classes held at the same time across grades two through four, the grades they want to start with next year—with the understanding the board wants to see the planning process begin in the high school and also wants to complete their site visits to see personalized learning in action, before making final approval.
Action items approved included:
•Sarah Lendt as long term counselor substitute for 30 days at $7,063 (expected to begin sometime in April.)
•Emily Reding as Summer Migrant School Coordinator at $25.33/hour.
•Tamara Doty as Spec. Educ. paraprofessional, 6.5 hours a day at $11.38/hour.
•Marissa Reilly as Spec. Educ. instructor effective Feb. 20 at $13,362.
•Scott DeMaris at head track coach, $3,907; Crystal Ibberson as head golf coach, $3,907; Tom Larson as assistant golf coach, $2,833; Sydney Geiger and Tim Hoffmann as shared head and junior high softball coaches, $3,907 and $1,741 shared.
•Trent Weicherding leave of absence extension for 2018-19 school year.
•MSEA Master Agreement for 2017-2019, $1/hour increase each of two years for paraprofessional staff.
The next board meeting date was changed from March 14 to March 21, 5:30 p.m.