High school seniors to get out day earlierPublished 10:30am Friday, March 1, 2013
Albert Lea High School Principal Jim Wagner asked the school board to move the last day of school for seniors to try something new.
The board agreed to make Friday, May 31, the last day for most seniors, and Wagner said he has a plan to help struggling seniors before their previous last day of school, Monday, June 3.
“The idea of moving their last day of school would give me the opportunity to take staff, work with students one-on-one and get projects completed and them ready for graduation,” Wagner said to the board.
Wagner said students who need more help could have time with teachers on that extra day. The board approved the proposal.
Superintendent Mike Funk also said he had asked Wagner to come up with a plan for students and final tests. Starting in fall of 2013, the high school will drop the policy that students can opt of out final tests if they have perfect attendance.
“We want to get students ready for what they’re going to face,” Wagner said. “We’ve got some students who, because they’re good students, have never taken a final.”
He also said he thinks students need to take the time to study for a test on a specified day and to learn how to deal with the anxiety that comes.
“We’re coming up with a different process of encouraging good attendance,” Wagner said.
In other action the board:
• Amended the budget for the fiscal year 2012-13. Director of Finance and Operations Lori Volz said the budget broke even and that going forward the district’s budget will likely be tighter.
• Heard from Director of Human Resources and Technology Jim Quiram about substitute teacher pay. Quiram said the district is having a hard time finding subs on Mondays and Fridays. He said other districts have seen the same problem, but Funk added that the district has increased their standards for who can substitute teach. Quiram said the district pays subs $110 per day, which is competitive with schools in southern Minnesota. He proposed increasing the pay for retired teachers who substitute to $125 a day. The board didn’t decide anything because it was a discussion item.
• Approved the school’s calendar of breaks and prep days for 2013-14.
• Heard from Director of Teaching and Learning Mary Williams about the district’s progress toward the school board’s goal of having 80 percent of elementary school students meeting or exceeding benchmarks in reading and math. Williams said the students are moving incrementally toward the goals, and that the district has seen some improvement but that there’s still more work to do.
• Heard from Funk about a site visit he and Wagner had recently done. They visited a public high school program in Anoka called STEP, or Secondary Technical Education Program. In that program high school students can take classes like automotive, firefighter training or learn more about construction, welding and a variety of other subjects. Funk said he liked the idea of a high school having a program like this to cater to students who want to work right after high school, while also catering to students who want to take college courses in high school and then go onto college.
• Heard from Peggy Havener and Mary Laeger-Hagemeister about the Freeborn County Choose Civility project. Havener told the board the project is an ongoing community initiative that intends to teach people how to respect, have empathy and have consideration for others.
• Heard from high school English teacher Molly Grimmius about a project her beginning acting class did in November. Her high school students prepared anti-bullying skits and presented them to elementary students in the district. Grimmius said the younger students were perceptive to the skits and that she had feedback from teachers that they were able to discuss bullying and how to stop it with their elementary students in class after seeing the skits.
• Recognized Williams with a certificate of appreciation for her work on Essential Student Outcomes, staff development and more.