Archived Story

Clarks Grove kids to go to Sibley

Published 10:24am Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Town’s kindergartners in 2014 will no longer start elementary at Lakeview

Starting in the fall of 2014, incoming kindergartners from Clarks Grove will attend Sibley Elementary School instead of Lakeview Elementary School.
The Albert Lea school board made the decision at its regular meeting Monday evening after some discussion at a previous meeting and a community meeting in Clarks Grove in May.

Mike Funk
Mike Funk

Superintendent Mike Funk made the recommendation to the board. He said this will give the families a year to prepare and adjust, instead of making the change immediately for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. The change came about as there is overcrowding in the Lakeview building but more room in Sibley. Since there is still overcrowding for this upcoming year, some room changes will have to be made.

“Operationally its impact on Lakeview means the three to four resource teachers who share a room will have to work somewhere else to free up that room as a classroom,” Funk said.

Older siblings of kindergartners can stay at Lakeview, or parents can choose to transfer the older child to Sibley so that both children are at the same school. Member Jill Marin said she knows the change is not ideal for families.

“We never try to make things hard for families,” Marin said. “But we know they’ll be successful wherever they are in the district.”

Board members Bill Leland, Mark Ciota, Linda Laurie, Jeshua Erickson and Marin all voted for the switch. Member Julie Johnson was the sole no vote, and she was vocal about concerns at the board meeting in May. The vote passed.


New at ALHS

The board heard from ALHS Principal Jim Wagner about changes he’s making at the high school. One change is that attendance will no longer be tied to taking finals, because Wagner said there were too many students not taking finals and therefore not being prepared for college.

“I’d rather have them struggle here where we can help them through it,” Wagner said. “At college you don’t get a whole lot of patience or time from professors.”

Students will be allowed eight excused absences for sickness, doctor’s appointments, vacations, etc. After those eight days are used up, any classes or days skipped will mean the student will make up time with their teacher, or face an incomplete grade. If the time is not made up by the end of the semester, the incomplete grade becomes an F. Wagner said he knows things come up, but if students make up the missed time with their teachers then there are no other consequences.

Leland said he hopes the ALHS staff are flexible, but he likes the idea of making up work after eight excused absences so that students don’t miss too much.

Wagner also told the board that students will no longer be allowed to carry backpacks around the school, unless they are clear or mesh. Students can still use regular backpacks to bring books to school, but those will be kept in their locker.

“The idea is to create a safer environment,” Wagner said. “Kids are carrying things with them that they shouldn’t be carrying around the building.”

Wagner also said that since larger bags will be kept in lockers that it will help random locker checks “mean something.” Before, when locker checks were done, often children would have contraband items with them in the classroom, so Wagner hopes they will be able to find and clear out more problem items.

Funk reminded Wagner of the Tiger Fund and other programs available to help families who can’t afford to buy a new see-through backpack for their child.

Another new change is that locker assignments will be rearranged. Wagner said he has found at past districts that if you put each grade together in one area there are more students around to make an audience for those who “make a scene.” By mixing up all the grades students are less likely to cause disturbances, Wagner said.

In other action the board:

• Heard from Director of Finance and Operations Lori Volz about health and safety funds. The board approved the health and safety budget that included funds for the district’s heating and ventilation project at six of the district’s seven schools. Also, some wooden bleachers at Hammer Complex did not pass inspection, and it is estimated to be about a $100,000 fix. Funk said the district is getting an analysis of the entire complex done now to see what kind of upgrades are needed.

• Approved the 2013-14 budget. Volz presented the budget to the board and said the district is on a positive path.

“We are in a good spot,” Volz said.

• Heard from Tanya Herbst, a district employee with early childhood special education. Herbst said she has been working with grant funding from Family Guided Routines Based Interventions to change how the district helps families with children under age 3. Normally, district employees would make home visits and work with a child with disabilities for one hour each week. With training, Herbst has been showing staff that they should use that one hour in the home to train the parent to work with the child, thus multiplying the number of hours the child is coached. Herbst said the program was going well and that she also was training staff about home visits in Austin, Mankato and Red Wing.