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Kenmare school to hire one more elementary teacher

Kenmare Elementary School will add one more teacher to its staff this fall, following action taken by the school board during the April 16th meeting.

4/24/13 (Wed)


Grades K, 1, 3, 4 will each need two classrooms

By Caroline Downs

Kenmare Elementary School will add one more teacher to its staff this fall, following action taken by the school board during the April 16th meeting.

Board members approved a motion to hire another instructor after hearing elementary principal Janis Gerding’s report on the projected enrollment numbers for grades kindergarten through 6.

“Right now, we would have a total of 175 kids next year,” she said.

The kindergarten pre-registration session held earlier in April resulted in 22 students signed up for the incoming kindergarten class.

However, based on her experience with families who moved to Kenmare during the summer months last year and the students added to the class rosters, Gerding expects the number of kindergartners to grow.

“Even if there are only 22 students, I would recommend we divide them into two classrooms,” she said. “I believe putting that extra time in and giving that foundation to those kids will pay off in the long run.”

She would like to see two classrooms apiece at the kindergarten, first, third and fourth grades next year.

At this time, expected student numbers in grades two, five and six could be accommodated by one instructor.

“The third grade class is at 26 students now, in two classrooms,” she said. “I would like to keep them split next year.”

The board agreed to advertise for an elementary teacher position. Specific staff grade level assignments will be made at a later date.

While board members moved quickly to support additional staff at the elementary school, they took no action on a recommendation from Gerding to purchase the READ 180 program from Scholastic for use by elementary students reading below grade level.

Gerding had spoken about her interest in the program at previous board sessions. During the April meeting, she referred to a price quote of $46,000 as the program’s initial cost, which included the necessary online licenses, other materials and teacher training needed. Once the district has the program in place, annual fees for Read 180 are $30 per student, which Gerding estimated would cost about $900 per year.

She described the program’s benefits for reading, writing and speaking skills and explained how those skills carry over into other subject areas for students. “If we could, I’d say let’s get it for every kid,” she added.

Gerding recently visited classrooms in Minot that use READ 180 and she reported her observations. “This is teacher-directed and scripted,” she said. “The program uses high-interest material, and it gets kids into a routine.”

Some board members asked for more information about the program. President Lars Christensen suggested other board members should research the READ 180 website before the next meeting.

Gerding said she could provide additional materials at that time, along with a presentation by a teacher currently using the program with students.

Three candidates file for
two school board seats
Two positions on the Kenmare school board will be decided when voters go to the polls in June.

Incumbent Lars Christensen has filed for re-election for a rural at-large seat. Christensen is running unopposed on the ballot.

Incumbent Craig Ellsworth and challenger Rebecca Standard have both filed as candidates for an at-large position.

The school board election will take place at Kenmare High School on June 11th, with the polls open from 7 am until 7 pm that day. All voters living within the school district’s boundaries are eligible to vote in the election.

More dual credit classes
for KHS students
KHS students may soon be able to earn more credits toward both their diploma and a college degree, if school administrators move forward with a proposal from Williston State College.

High school principal Robert Thom reported on a meeting held with WSC representatives to increase the number of students enrolled in dual credit courses.

Currently, KHS students can earn credit in College English through Bismarck State College and in College Algebra through Minot State University, at a cost of $130-140 per credit hour, according to Thom.

However, WSC would like to offer those two courses to Kenmare students, along with an advanced biology course and possibly advanced business and advanced vo-ag courses, at a cost of $50 per credit hour.

Thom said the proposal was a joint venture between the college and the WSC Foundation Fund.

In addition, students would have the choice of taking the courses solely for high school credit, or for dual credit. Thom said that option alone should improve student numbers in those courses.

“This is really exciting,” he said. “It all sounded very promising, and it would give more of our students the possible opportunity to get a head start on college.”

Budget proposed for 2013-2014
spends $4.45 million

Board members had their first look at the district’s budget proposed for 2013-2014, with $4.45 million in expenses and employee benefits. Revenue for the year was projected at $4.44 million, including $2.76 million in Foundation Aid, transportation and vocational education support from the state.

At this time, the budget deficit was estimated at $13,297.00, but business manager Renae Murphy cautioned the board that the final numbers from the state legislature were not complete yet.

Murphy said she used the most recent figures available to prepare the Kenmare district budget. “The Senate has made some changes, and that was sent back to the House for approval,” she said.

She also noted final adjustments on staff salaries and insurance in the budget would be made after contract negotiations with the district’s teachers were finished.

The board must give initial approval to a district budget in May.

Technology plan calls for
more student computers
Superintendent Duane Mueller distributed copies of the technology plan for the years 2013-2016, as prepared by the Technology Planning Committee.

The plan noted all teachers in grades kindergarten through 12 have access to two 30-unit mobile computer labs, an AlphaSmart portable lab, digital cameras, digital camcorders, scanners and televisions, VCRs and DVDs for classroom use.

Each teacher has a school-purchased laptop computer to use and a SMART Board or ActivBoard with an LCD projector in his or her classroom. Elementary teachers can access the two 30-iPad mobile labs, while six classrooms at the high school level share 120 netbook computers.

The school’s buildings have wireless and hardwire capabilities.

The plan calls for adding two 30-laptop mobile labs within the next two years, at a cost of approximately $30,000 per lab, and to update the Dell computer lab of 22 desktop computers by the 2015-2016 school year.

Required technology courses for students include keyboarding and technology literacy lessons in grades kindergarten through 7. Students are mandated to complete the one-semester Computer 8 and Word Processing 9 classes.

According to the plan, Kenmare students use technology in several ways, including research, projects, distance learning and assessment. The reading and math series taught in grades kindergarten through 6 require the use of technology every day.

Kenmare Public School’s proposed budget for 2013-2014 includes $60,000 as a technology line item in the vocational education expenditures. The elementary instruction budget includes a $10,000 line item for technology equipment and supplies, and the secondary instruction budget has a $15,000 line item for technology.

Superintendent Mueller asked the board to review the technology plan for approval at a later meeting before being submitted to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

Students to be released
for teacher training sessions

Board members approved a motion to allow the Kenmare school staff to participate in Common Core Standards workshops to be held during early release time on a monthly basis during the 2013-2014 school year. Superintendent Mueller said the Minot Regional Education Association had applied for a waiver from the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction to allow schools to participate in the training by dismissing students early one day each month.

“It would be a total of 18 hours [of training time],” said Mueller. “This would give staff the time to work on the core standards and time to work together on curriculum. They don’t get an opportunity for that now.”

A schedule for the early release dates will be made public after the Minot REA’s waiver request is approved and the training dates determined.

In other business:
•The board approved the minutes of the regular March meeting and the special meeting held April 4th, along with the district’s bills for payment as presented.

•Murphy announced the district is carrying an estimated balance of $1.9 million, compared to $1.6 million at this time last year. “Next month, I’ll have a closer tally on where we’ll end up,” she said, in reference to the carryover amount. “We will try to prepay [the two new] buses from this money.”

•Board members approved a project to replace the carpet in the high school band area, after reviewing a quote received from Farmers Union Lumber Company in Kenmare for $16,506.00.

•The board directed the Building Committee to review the list of future maintenance needs for the elementary and high school buildings provided by Kraus-Anderson Construction Management and to make recommendations about prioritizing those projects. The list includes 22 items that require attention at the elementary school, ranging in cost from $2100 for minor window repair to $252,000 for replacing the roof and flashing. The list for the high school building includes 30 different projects, ranging in cost from $1,155 for a new drinking fountain in the band area to $672,000 for roof and flashing replacement. Total cost for all projects at both buildings was estimated at just over $3.3 million.

•Board members approved a motion to accept a letter of resignation from KHS science instructor Shannon Grondahl, effective at the end of her current contract term.

•Principal Thom reported progress made on the high school schedule for the 2013-2014 school year, with seventh period designated as a supervised study hall for most students. He planned to finish the student schedules after April 30th. “Right now, I like the way the schedule is coming together,” he said. “Hopefully, there be minimal class conflicts.”

•KHS students were participating on the school’s golf, track and softball teams, but with temperatures and weather conditions less than favorable for the spring sports season, Thom noted that no competitive events had been held. “Everybody in the area is a little bit nervous about how this is going to come out,” he said. “The seasons might come down to a regional meet and a state meet.”

•Superintendent Mueller reported the two mini-buses purchased by the district would be delivered in June, with camera installation scheduled for July 16th.

•The board held an executive session to discuss contract negotiation matters, including assistance with housing in the community.

•The next regular meeting of the Kenmare school board will take place Tuesday, May 14, 2013, beginning at 7 pm at Kenmare High School.

•The Kenmare school board will hold a special meeting on Monday, April 29th, at 6 pm, to open bids received for the proposed high school furnace project. The board will also meet in executive session that evening to discuss the progress of contract negotiations with the Kenmare Education Association. The special meeting is open to the public and will be held at Kenmare High School.