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Kenmare School still in search of a math teacher

Some of the KHS math classes will follow a standards-based curriculum this semester with homework and tests like usual. The students who excel in those classes and need to be challenged will be presented with enrichment materials, while students who struggle to master math concepts and skills will be supported with additional lessons.

8/24/11 (Wed)

Kenmare Public School 2011-2012 opening enrollment numbers


Distance learning and on-site tutor will fill the void


Some of the KHS math classes will follow a standards-based curriculum this semester with homework and tests like usual. The students who excel in those classes and need to be challenged will be presented with enrichment materials, while students who struggle to master math concepts and skills will be supported with additional lessons.


Those students just won’t have a math teacher actually standing before them in the classroom.


Kenmare superintendent Duane Mueller explained the situation during a regular meeting of the Kenmare school board held August 16th. The district has been seeking a math teacher to fill the position left vacant by the resignation of Anthony Keaveny at the end of the 2010-2011 school year, but more math jobs than applicants exist in the state. Kenmare was unable to secure an instructor before the start of classes.


“I look at this as an opportunity for our kids,” Mueller told board members, “and I feel confident it will be an excellent program.”


The courses are offered through the North Dakota Center for Distance Learning, with the math teachers presenting their lessons and communicating with students via the Internet. An on-site facilitator, with nearly the equivalent of a math major, has been hired for Kenmare in order to provide direct assistance to students in the classroom itself.


Mueller said the district would continue accepting applications for a qualified math teacher, with the goal of hiring someone to start after the semester break in January. “I think it’s time for Kenmare to start attending career fairs to aggressively recruit teachers,” he said. He added that the availability of rental housing was a question asked during interviews, and he reminded board members that beginning teachers were not likely to commit to buying a house when starting their careers.


In the meantime, each student will work from his or her computer with a certified and highly qualified teacher presenting lessons from Fargo.


Board member Michele Nelson asked about the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction’s opinion of the arrangement.


“They directed us as this being the direction to go because of our current situation,” said Mueller. “[The district] won’t lose funding and won’t lose accreditation.”


He pointed out that the large seventh grade class would be divided into two sections for their math course and that students would be able to directly contact the instructor with questions during the class itself as well as hours after school posted by the teacher. “This is beyond whatever I imagined it to be,” he said. “The more I learn about it, the more at ease I’m becoming.”


He reiterated he and KHS principal Robert Thom were looking for a quality math teacher, and he praised the ND center for Distance Learning for their cooperation. “They’re looking into what are the critical needs of North Dakota,” he said. “A new director has taken over, and they’re trying to address the needs of the students of North Dakota.”


Basketball teams will

use Donnybrook gym

for 2011-2012 season

A narrow 4-3 margin by board members allowed Mike Zimmer to re-introduce the topic of renting the Donnybrook gym for the 2011-2012 school year.


Last spring, the board voted to stop using that facility for basketball practices and games in favor of the Kenmare Memorial Hall. The school district paid rent and other expenses for both spaces. During the spring discussion, the board estimated a cost savings of over $8000 if the Donnybrook gym were no longer used.


However, Zimmer wanted to revisit that decision. “I just wanted to talk about it some more before it’s too late to talk about it again,” he said, explaining that Curtis Graff of Donnybrook had called him to ask about the district’s interest in the facility before renting to another party.


Board member Lenny Rodin offered a motion to rent the Donnybrook gym for the 2011-2012 winter sports seasons, which sparked a discussion among board members about benefits and disadvantages for students, parents, coaches and the district of using the Donnybrook building.


Roger Johnson recalled concerns expressed last spring about the condition of some of the floor tiles and Lars Christensen repeated his concerns with the coaches receiving additional pay to drive the bus to Kenmare and back, putting extra miles on those buses, for practices at Donnybrook.


Superintendent Mueller reminded the board that better use could be made of the Memorial Hall for practices, even though Zimmer pointed out that at least three junior high and high school girls and boys basketball teams would need practice space at any given time through the winter months. “And that doesn’t include the third and fourth grade program,” he said.


“That’s not our program,” Mueller responded, adding that the third and fourth grade basketball schedule is a city recreation program. “We pay rent to use the Hall, so we get first dibs for that.”


“But those are our kids,” Zimmer said. “And in January and February, we will have four programs going, including third and fourth grade basketball.”


He continued, “For the $8000 we spend, I think the convenience for our kids is worth it. I know we had a budget concern earlier, but we came in with $100,000 more than we thought we would.”


Board members asked Thom what he noticed for basketball scheduling issues as the new activities director. He said he had seen several junior games already scheduled for the Donnybrook gym in the 2011-2012 school activities calendar, but he had not rescheduled any of those games for either the high school or Memorial Hall gym yet.


“I can tell you there’s no way there’s enough room for a varsity team to practice at the Memorial Hall,” he said as board members talked about the size of the two floors and the number of baskets available.


Discussion continued about basketball practice times, locations for games and even the possibility of adding a second gym at the high school. Finally, however, the board voted 6-1 in favor of using the Donnybrook gym for practices and games during the 2011-2012 school year.


In other business:

• Board members approved minutes of the August meeting and the district’s bills for payment, with the exception of two contractors’ bills related to the school building project. Superintendent Mueller listed several items that still need to be addressed in the remodeled classrooms, including installation of six door locks, changing a projector mount, balancing air and heat flow through the rooms, and eliminating the gas smell from one of the science classrooms. “It would be nice if [the contractors] were completely done before we paid them,” said Johnson.


• Business manager Renae Murphy announced the district would start using direct deposit for the regular monthly payroll.


• The Transportation Committee recommended a bus stop for Bowbells children enrolled in the Kenmare school district at the corner of 2nd and Main Street in Bowbells.


• Transportation Committee chairman Craig Ellsworth announced the group will research the costs for a new activity bus, given the fact that teams and groups from the school are now traveling longer distances more often to games and competitions.


One example will be the September 30th Kenmare-Bowbells-Burke Central football game in Cando, with board consensus that a bus should be rented for the occasion at the cost of $1170 to handle the players and their gear.


• Hot Lunch Committee chairman Michele Nelson said the committee had no recommendations at this time, following an August 3rd meeting with members of the PTA and the kitchen staff.


The committee will meet again in September to address some of the issues raised. Zimmer described the committee of kitchen staff, students, parents and teachers that was discussed at the meeting, saying that such a group could improve communication about the school lunch program.


• The board scheduled a public meeting for Monday, September 19th, at 6:30 pm at the high school to discuss the increase in the mill levy for taxpayers because of the increased taxable evaluation.


Murphy noted school districts are allowed to levy as much as 110 mills by law, but the Kenmare district would not be taxing property owners at that level. Further information will be available at the meeting.


• Board members reviewed quotes for treated Wyoming coal, delivered, but took no action.


• The board approved open enrollment applications for a seventh grade student whose family moved to Tolley and a sophomore student whose family moved to Carpio during the summer. Both students attended Kenmare schools last year.


• Board members approved annual compliance reports for the elementary and high schools, as well as the pledge of securities submitted by State Bank & Trust of Kenmare. The board also designated State Bank & Trust of Kenmare, BNC National Bank and Town & Country Credit Union as official depositories for the school district.


• Board members approved five bus routes for the school year, with revisions to be made by the drivers and Superintendent Mueller after the first day of classes.


• The board approved the revised teacher handbook on second reading, coaching contracts for Molly Terveen in 5th and 6th grade boys basketball, Dennis Kaatz in wrestling and Kacy Keysor as assistant boys basketball, and an advisor contract for Thurstan Johnson as science coordinator.


• Thom announced that 22 high school boys from Kenmare, Bowbells and Burke Central reported for 9-man football practice, and 21 reported for the junior high team. For volleyball, 18 girls were practicing with the high school team while 16 were playing in the junior high program.


• Ellsworth volunteered to represent the school district on the Minot Regional Education Association (REA) for the year.


• The board held an executive session to discuss legal matters.


• The next regular meeting of the Kenmare school board was scheduled for Monday, September 19th, at 7:30 pm at Kenmare High School.