Board prepares for coming school year

Members of Boy Scout Troop 261 of Cresco attended the school board meeting as part of getting their Citizenship in Community and Communications merit badges.

Members of Boy Scout Troop 261 of Cresco attended the school board meeting as part of getting their Citizenship in Community and Communications merit badges.

By Marcie Klomp

The Howard-Winneshiek School Board had to be on its toes at the July 22 meeting as 12 scouts, leaders and parents from Cresco Troop 261 attended for their merit badges in Citizenship in Community and Communications.

Board member and father of scout Harry Kitchen, James Kitchen welcomed the troop, explaining why they were attending. He asked others in the audience why they were attending. He pointed to Klomp saying she was attending the meeting for the press.

Others speaking up were Greg Adams, who attended as new 2-6 principal; Heather Klenke and Harold Jensen from the tech department; Shirley Sovereign as preschool-first principal, Jim Obermann and Dale Dennler as teacher/coaches; Erin Powers-Daley as Center Director; Chris Govern as a new home owner and possibly being hired as a social studies teacher; and Brian Swestka as Transportation Director.

Heather Suckow came later and explained she was with the teachers’ union and wanted to make sure board actions did not go against the teachers’ contracts.

• The board accepted the resignation of Debra Ringoen as Special Education Associate after five years and Brian Ollendieck from custodian position.

• The board also hired several new staff, including Govern as full time. Other new staff include Rachelle Reis Branum for a 0.6 Elementary Art teacher (she will be teaching in her old school at Lime Springs-Chester!); Kirstin Kerian as a full-time junior high and high school reading teacher; and Jill Berends and Linda Trende as three-hour per day cooks at the K-8 building.

• Klenke discussed the progress of getting all the one-to-one devices ready for the start of school. She said 676 computers were done, and as of the Monday meeting, the department had prepared 361 iPads and were halfway done. Jensen was working on transferring all the teachers’ data to new computers. The schedule for that is 10 per day.

The roll out of the 7-12 computers is set for the day before school starts, the evening of Aug. 21.

• Obermann and Dennler spoke on a coach’s conference they and others attended for five days. Obermann reported, “The leadership training was pretty intense but had very good sessions. We learned about concussion awareness, strength and conditioning, public relations and bullying prevention.”

Dennler agreed the cyber-bullying session was good.

Obermann concluded, “It is one of the better conferences I’ve been to. It was a good bonding time for our coaches. We talked about a lot of different things.”

• Supt. John Carver gave his report. “My heart has been very heavy since last Friday, after the funeral of [senior] Shay Peckham. I continue to get calls from parents who want to help their kids in dealing with this. We just have a lot of hurting kids. In the fall, we need to work on contingencies on how to deal with a situation like this during breaks and summer vacation.”

He commended the cleaning staff for working feverishly to get all the maintenance and cleaning done at all the centers before the start of school.

A board retreat open to the public will be held Aug. 10 at Prairie’s Edge Nature Center. One of the discussion points will be physical plants.

• Two open enrollment requests were denied as they were requested well after the March 1 deadline.

• Mr. Adams and Mrs. Sovereign reviewed the schedule and staff needs for the fall and recommended to add a 0.2 Elementary Music position. Barb Holstrom has dibs as she is the 0.8 Elementary Music teacher. In addition to music, this position will help with RTI (Response To Intervention).

Mrs. Sovereign explained the program in length after the meeting.

RTI is a full continuum of support for ALL students. It is a framework to implement effective practices to make sure all students are successful with the core curriculum.

“The goal of RTI is to match student needs with available resources. It involves close teacher collaboration to identify student needs and organize the appropriate resources and instruction. The goal is that at least 80 percent of the students are achieving successfully with the core curriculum.”

She added about 5-10 percent may need targeted instruction to be successful. Typically, this is done in small groups and in addition to the “core” classes. A small number of students, 1-5 percent, may require more intensive interventions and additional instruction. This is typically provided on an individual basis.

“Because Crestwood Elementary is identified as a School In Need of Assistance (SINA), it is recommended that our plan of improvement include implementing RTI to assist our students at being more successful in reading which will be the focus of our plan for the 2013-2014 school year.”

• The board approved payment to TC Networks on the following schedule: 30 percent now, 50 percent upon completion of project and remaining 20 percent after classes resume and the system has performed satisfactorily.

• The employee manual and teacher handbooks were approved.

• Pan-o-Gold was the lowest bread bid and was contracted for the school year.

• There were only two nomination forms for school board member picked up from the district office. They can also be picked up from the county courthouse.

• The board ratified the letter prepared by Mr. Felderman that explains the philosophy and procedures of basing grade classification on earned credits.

• At the next meeting, Aug. 26, the school board will decide when to move the meeting nights. Currently meetings are the fourth Monday of the month. The board will decide on the second or third Monday.

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