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Girls softball offered as high school sport

Kenmare High School girls may soon have the option to wear a Honkers softball uniform following action taken at the Kenmare school board meeting held December 21st.

12/29/10 (Wed)


Kenmare High School girls may soon have the option to wear a Honkers softball uniform following action taken at the Kenmare school board meeting held December 21st.


Mike Zimmer, reporting as chairman of the Activities Committee, described the interest from students in joining a softball team after Superintendent Mueller repeated an invitation from the Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood school district to establish a softball co-op agreement.


Zimmer said sign-up sheets were posted in the school office for students to indicate possible participation in the spring sports. “To our surprise, 22 girls signed up for softball,” he said.


Twelve students signed up for track, four for the girls golf team, seven for the boys golf team, and six for the baseball team.


Zimmer acknowledged that 22 girls would be more than enough for a softball team, but he said the committee liked the idea of forming a co-op with the MLS district. “We weren’t really sure if all the girls knew what they were getting into,” he said, adding that the season would include regular practices and a full game schedule. “If we had enough girls, this way we could run a varsity and a JV schedule.”


Softball was sanctioned by the North Dakota High School Activities Association during the 2008-2009 school year. If Kenmare, MLS and possibly Bowbells form a softball co-op, the team could play the Region 3 schools, including teams from Minot Bishop Ryan, Minot High School, Bismarck, or Dickinson High School. Board members noted Des Lacs-Burlington High School was in the process of forming a softball team and would join Region 3, too.


High school principal and activities director Scott Faul told board members the initial paperwork to form the co-op had been started, with plans to finalize details about coaches, practices and schedules in January. “We’ll be the host school for softball,” he said. “It would be a three-year commitment, and for the first few years we might just have 10 or 15 games.”


Faul continued by talking about the Kenmare-Bowbells baseball team and the possibility of establishing a co-op agreement with MLS-Glenburn for that sport, especially because the communities already combine players for an American Legion baseball team each summer. “With the numbers we have, we’re looking at a season like last year, with more junior high kids than high school kids,” he said, adding that two players would come from Bowbells for a total of eight. “There aren’t enough numbers.”


He had talked with people interested in coaching the team, but no firm commitments would be made until the team’s status was determined. Another factor in creating the expanded baseball co-op would be a $500 fine for submitting the paperwork after the deadline. No fine would be assessed for softball because the sport was a new addition to all school districts involved.


Zimmer said the Activities Committee recommended forming co-op agreements with MLS for both baseball and softball this year, and board members unanimously approved that action.


Faul and Zimmer also talked about the prospects for track and golf, with the recommendation to leave the golf program as it was. The committee had no recommendation regarding track, but Faul suggested looking into a co-op agreement with MLS in the future. Kenmare already co-ops with Bowbells for track, and Faul said individual athletes have been competitive for the team and that they could compete with the lower number of athletes this year. “I would prefer to have the application ready to send later this spring for a co-op [with MLS] next year,” he said.


Computer access for students

Craig Ellsworth reported on the Curriculum & Technology Committee’s efforts to study options for student access to computers, in the form of PCs, laptops, iPads or tablets. He said a group of teachers who toured the Stanley school district, where a laptop computer is made available for each student, shared their observations with the committee. “It sounds like that is working very, very well with Stanley,” Ellsworth said. “I was impressed with how excited these teachers were about this.”


Superintendent Duane Mueller and Faul also reported from the visit to Stanley. Mueller noted concerns with space in the lockers for computer cases, and described how student exams completed on the computers were automatically graded and entered into PowerBook for the teachers, with the grades made available almost immediately. Faul said the laptop computers lasted about three or four years, and then were refurbished and put back into the school system as part of mobile computer labs for use by the elementary classrooms. He also noted the opportunity for teachers to eliminate worksheets, hard copies of tests, etc., and go paperless in their classrooms.


Ellsworth said some security issues had to be monitored at the classroom level, and he talked about how teachers in Stanley discovered they would often receive questions from students who were more comfortable using the digital format than asking aloud during class.


One major issue related to expanding student access to computers was providing support for the equipment. “Stanley has one and a half tech positions,” Mueller said, “and they’re going to two [full-time] techs next year.”


Board members talked about several aspects of providing a computer for every student to use, including problems with taking computers home, Internet access at students’ homes, the cost of increasing the current part-time technology coordinator position to a full-time role, and the need to purchase insurance for the equipment and charge student technology fees to cover maintenance and upkeep.


Superintendent Mueller noted that Stanley’s annual technology budget stood at $200,000, and that elementary students were required to attend a Technology Day before the school year started and then have their parents sign an agreement allowing the students to take the computers home to use.


“One thing I learned from all of this is that whatever we decide to do, professional development is a really important component,” he added.


The Kenmare school district received a federal technology grant, with the announcement made in November, and several iPads were ordered for classroom use with those funds. Board president Lenny Rodin announced that teachers working with the grant would make a presentation at the January board meeting, with further discussion to be held at that time regarding the district’s priorities for technology.


Board members agreed with Ellsworth they needed further research and more information. “This will allow our students to develop 21st century skills,” Mueller said. “I’d like to see us tentatively make a decision by the end of February or beginning of March.”


Mandatory band or piano lab

for 5th & 6th graders

Ellsworth also reported on the committee’s discussion with music instructor Ken Starr about options for mandatory fifth and sixth grade band. “Mr. Starr was still opposed to making fifth and sixth grade band part of the core requirements,” Ellsworth said, “and we had more discussion about the possibility of a piano lab.”


The committee reviewed information about piano labs supplied by Jacobsen Music in Minot, and Faul reported from his conversations with administrators in the Beulah School District, which has used a piano lab for music classes in grades kindergarten through eight for the past 10 years. “The word back is they are very pleased with it and now have two piano labs,” Faul said.


Superintendent Mueller noted the Beulah district had committed about $22,000 for their piano labs and paid a portion of the costs through a grant.


Ellsworth said the committee was still reviewing and discussing the options, which included offering mandatory band, teaching music through the use of a piano lab, creating additional incentives for students to participate in high school band, and making no changes. “We went back to our original question, which was ‘What can the board do to encourage students or remove barriers to improve the numbers of students enrolling in band?’” he said.


Superintendent Mueller and Ellsworth agreed the decision could wait until later in the spring. “We’ve got time to do the research yet,” said Mueller.


Phase II classrooms

almost ready

Superintendent Mueller reported that work on the Phase II classrooms of the high school renovation project should be completed within the next week or so, with the floors in the science classrooms to be finished December 27th and 28th.


Although some minor work remained, he believed the rooms would be ready for use. “Basically, when we come back from break in January, we should be able to move in,” he said. “I’ve talked to the elementary and high school staff, and we’re starting to create a laundry list of things that need to be addressed.”


Board members asked if any rooms would remain empty for the year, but Mueller said the extra rooms were being used this year by groups of elementary students working with a staff member during the reading break-out sessions. “We have space,” he said, even as Zimmer predicted the 2011-2012 kindergarten, first grade and second grade classes would need to be split because of high numbers of students.


In other business:

• Board members approved minutes of the November meeting and the district’s bills for payment, as presented.


• Business manager Renae Murphy said the district should start receiving tax dollars beginning in January 2011. She also noted a few bills were still expected from the contractors associated with the high school renovation project. Upon request from board member Mike Zimmer, Murphy will start providing board members with a breakdown of expenses and revenue for each sport. She mentioned that golf and track do not generate any revenue because no admission fees are charged for those events.


• Board members will hold a retreat, open to the public, on Wednesday, February 23, 2011, at Kenmare High School. David King described the retreat as a strategic planning session, and board members agreed to discuss the district’s technology needs and vision, as well as the technology budget and a potential mill levy for technology.


• Superintendent Mueller announced the teachers would participate in a technology inservice session January 17 and 18.


• Mueller noted ITV classes for the 2011-2012 school year would begin on August 22nd, which would be a likely starting date for classes in Kenmare. Board members asked about adding a second ITV lab, which Faul said would be helpful for scheduling purposes. An ITV receiving lab would cost approximately $10,000 to install, and board members encouraged the administrators to add one. Superintendent Mueller said he preferred to wait and see what classroom space would be available next year before making that decision. He also mentioned the option of a studio lab for ITV, outfitted so KHS students could interact with classes in other schools.


• Faul announced some changes under discussion at the high school, including holding exams for the fall semester during the week before the Christmas break. High school teachers are working together in teams to address topics such as standards, assessments, curriculum and more. A new committee has also been formed to consider the use of the Pyramid of Intervention with high school students as a way to determine which students may need reteaching and relearning opportunities in various subject areas.


• Faul reported he met with a salesman from FLR Standards, a Princeton, MN, company that specializes in gym floors. The representative toured the KHS gym at Faul’s request to analyze “dead” spots on the floor, and he described the quality of the floor as good, with damage to the underlying suspension system. The industry has replaced the old rail system, such as that under Kenmare’s gym floor, with a stronger and more stable “scissors” system. The salesman estimated the cost of redoing the KHS gym floor with the new system at $62,900, which included painting the lines for basketball and volleyball courts. Additional costs would be incurred for moving the bleachers, leveling the floor, and painting any other artwork on the floor itself. Faul shared the information for the board’s future consideration.


• Faul announced that high school basketball games would be required to use a shot clock beginning with the 2011-2012 season, and that schools in the Northwest Conference were coordinating efforts to purchase clocks together at a discount. Each shot clock system costs $2400, with additional expenses for the necessary electrical work. Faul noted a second person would need to be hired for basketball games specifically to operate the shot clock.


• The next regular meeting of the Kenmare School Board will be held Monday, January 10, 2011, beginning at 5:30 pm at Kenmare High School. Board president Lenny Rodin announced the agenda would include further information from the Curriculum & Technology Committee, additional ideas for the board retreat, an update on the high school renovation project, and a report on progress with the baseball and softball co-op agreement with MLS.