Superintendent Richard Keith recently took part in a discussion about e-learning days at a conference he attended and learned how they worked. E-learning days are implemented on days when school has to be canceled due to inclement weather. Students would be able to access their schoolwork online that day and complete it at home, eliminating the need for make-up days at the end of the year. Keith pointed out that, as make-up days are tacked onto the end of the school year, they’re generally pretty unproductive. E-learning days would allow students to complete the schoolwork that they were already scheduled to do that day. During the conference, Keith raised concerns about connectivity as there are students who do not have access to the internet at home. Other districts that use e-learning days plan for those students by sending home printed work or downloading the work at school to use at home. If the students are still unable to access their work, they are given the opportunity to make it up the next day in school, just like if they have a sick day. “They work around those kind of things,” he assured the board. He also noted that other districts have a “practice day” at the beginning of the school year to allow students and teachers to see how e-learning days work. Keith encouraged the board members to research and think about the possibility of implementing e-learning days at Fillmore Central. The school staff at both the high school and elementary/middle schools will have the chance to discuss the logistics of e-learning at meetings on June 4.
The girls track team came in fourth place at the True Team conference and the boys track team placed 10th. Congratulations were extended to both teams as well as Ashley Miner for breaking the school record in pole vault with a 10’ 3” vault, Emma Breitsprecher for breaking the school record in the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 16.22, and Kaylee Arndt for breaking the school record in the 3200 meter run with a time of 11:34.3.
Twelve Fillmore Central students participated in the Special Olympics at Winona this May. Fillmore Central has already been invited back for next year, and the students and staff are looking forward to attending again.
Resignations were accepted from agriculture instructor, FFA advisor, and eighth grade girls basketball coach, Ethan Lapham; SADD advisor Amanda Thomas, and Charlene Mensink, who worked with the preschool and ECFE programs.
The hiring of Andy Todd as high school social studies teacher, Megan Brown as agriculture instructor, Amy Miron as elementary special education teacher, and Sydnie Huffman as toddler room lead teacher in the daycare were all approved by the board. Maternity leaves were also approved for daycare worker Nissa Knapp starting in December and elementary teacher Karn Friedges beginning in September.
A special education service contract with Hiawatha Valley Education District for physically impaired and traumatic brain injury consultations was approved. The board also reviewed the support staff pay rates for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years and approved the contracts with a 3.8% increase, five additional vacation days for the bookkeeper’s and business manager’s contracts, a change from hourly to salary for the community education director’s contract, and 17 days of PTO.
An open enrollment request from a Kingsland student was approved for next fall.
Participation in the Student Assurance Services program was approved. The program offers voluntary insurance for school-age children at no cost to the district. The Head Start lease for the 2018-19 school year was approved with no changes to the terms or rates of the lease. A Memorandum of Understanding was also approved which allows Luther College to place education department students in Fillmore Central classrooms and programs to allow them field experience as part of their education. The second reading of board policy 513.1 regarding early kindergarten entrance was approved.
A resolution for the 2018-19 Minnesota State High School League membership was approved, along with the sports sharing agreement with the Lanesboro and Mabel-Canton districts.
The contract with Frontline Education was renewed for another year. Frontline provides the school with absence and substitute management. Board member Sue Sikkink asked if the contract allows Fillmore Central to hire their own substitutes outside of the program. “I’m not sure how that works with our contract as we haven’t done that yet,” high school principal Heath Olstad answered.
A land swap with the City of Harmony was reviewed and approved. The swap will allow the school to move the baseball diamond to the property next to the Harmony community center. The Harmony city council is also expected to approve the land swap at their June meeting, making it final.
The board reviewed a proposal from the elementary staff to use the first two days of the next school year as back-to-school conferences. This would allow teachers to assess each student and prepare an individualized instruction plan that could be implemented right away. Vision and hearing screenings would also take place during those first two days as well. With the current format of the Stop-and Drop open house evening, parents do not always get the chance to talk with their child’s teacher one-on-one. The back-to-school conferences would allow time for that.
The conferences would be scheduled at the beginning of the summer with a 30-minute time slot for each student during those first two days of school in the fall. During that 30 minutes, teachers would have a five-minute meeting with the parents and then spend 20 minutes assessing the child’s educational needs. A five-minute follow-up discussion with the parents would conclude the conference. Principal Olstad noted that they are currently reviewing the possibility of having regular school hours for one of the conference days, but changing the other one from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to accommodate families’ schedules. He is optimistic about the attendance rate as parent-teacher conferences and stop-and-drop are well attended now. “I’m confident that it’s going to be a high percentage,” he said.
“I talked to some other teachers at school that do this, and they recommended that this is the best thing we can do,” Board member Emily Onsager said about the proposal. Board member Shelly Topness agreed that it sounded beneficial. “I think it’s good to try this and give it a year to see how it goes,” she said. The rest of the board agreed and the proposal was approved.
A representative from a playground company was recently at the school to look at the sites for the elementary playground and proposed preschool/daycare playground. The current playground equipment for the elementary school does not meet code or fall requirements and so it needs to be replaced with safer, more handicap accessible equipment. The representative recommended moving from playground towers to an obstacle course type of structure. The board agreed that it would be prudent to move ahead with the project. Superintendent Keith will put together some proposals to present to the board at a later meeting.
The next Fillmore Central School Board meeting will be held on June 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school media center.