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By Caroline Downs
Kenmare Elementary School’s two sections of second graders will move to the high school as third graders in August, following discussion at the Kenmare School Board meeting March 20th.
The move was considered temporary by the board, given the number of kindergartners expected for the 2012-2013 school year and an increased need for special education services at the elementary school.
“I think the Building Committee needs to take a hard look at what the plan’s going to be,” said board member Roger Johnson. “This is a one-year fix.”
Members of the Curriculum and Technology Committee and the Building Committee have been studying the projected student enrollment for next year. At one point, purchase of a portable classroom was considered for use at the elementary school. However, the cost of such a unit is $160,000 and committee members were told to expect a delay in delivery.
“We know it’s not going to be here in time, according to information we’ve had,” said Lenny Rodin.
Two of the renovated classrooms in the elementary portion of the high school can be used for the third graders, according to Superintendent Duane Mueller. Those classrooms currently house elementary enrichment and support classes that will be moved to one of the empty interior classrooms, with partitions separating that space for the smaller groups. “There will be some furnishings we need to purchase,” Mueller said.
Some board members were concerned about the move. “Are we looking at just a one year deal at this point,” asked Michele Nelson. “The third grade can always be moved back down [if the numbers change]?” She listed safety issues before and after school, the need for additional playground supervision, and available locker space as matters to be considered.
“If we can make it one year up [at the high school], that gives us a little longer to plan,” said board president Lars Christensen.
More staff to serve
One significant factor in the need for more space at the elementary school revealed itself during the preschool screenings held March 7th. Superintendent Mueller indicated that of the 24 children tested that day in hearing, vision, developmental skills, and speech and language, 13 were eligible for further testing. The school district is required to provide services to children identified through such screening, even before those children reach the traditional age to attend school. “Currently, we have services provided to eight children,” Mueller said.
The addition of potentially 13 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds for special services, along with the 30 students projected to attend kindergarten in Kenmare next year, caused the board to approve a motion to hire additional staff members.
At this time, the Kenmare School District needs to add a second kindergarten teacher, a special education teacher who will focus on serving kindergartners with special needs two days and preschool students three days each week, and a part-time speech-language pathologist. Board members agreed these positions would be hired instead of an assistant elementary principal position, which had been discussed by one of the board committees, because of the district’s budget.
For 2012-2013, Kenmare Elementary School will house two sections of kindergarten, one first grade classroom, two second grade classrooms, and two special needs classrooms. Two sections of third graders and one section each of fourth, fifth and sixth graders will attend classes at Kenmare High School.
More space for more kids
Basic sketches for the proposed addition of a gymnasium, wellness center and perhaps classrooms at Kenmare High School should be finished by architects at Davison Larson Associates in Minot within the next two weeks, according to Building Committee Chair Mike Zimmer.
Committee members want other board members and the public to be able to visualize the suggested changes and new facilities before voting to support and fund the project. “In order to plan, we need a drawing that starts that process,” Rodin said. “We believe there are sources for finances available through different organizations and entities around here.”
School starts August 21
on proposed school calendar
Superintendent Mueller presented a tentative calendar for the 2012-2013 academic year for the board’s review. School would begin Tuesday, August 21, 2012. The Christmas holiday break would begin Saturday, December 22nd, with classes resuming Wednesday, January 2, 2013.
The year would include 175 instructional days, and classes would end Wednesday, May 22, 2013 with make-up days scheduled for May 23 and 24 if needed.
Presently, graduation is scheduled for Sunday, May 26th, during Memorial Day weekend. Mueller asked board members to consider changing the graduation ceremony to another day, possibly Saturday, May 25th, with discussion about that date to continue at a later meeting.
Proposal to expand iPad use
Freshman Jordan Balvitsch presented a proposal to implement the use of iPads with one class of high school students, replacing the computer lab and netbook computers now available for student use. Balvitsch surveyed 70 high school students and 10 KHS instructors about the use of iPads and learned 64 of the students and all 10 teachers preferred using iPads in the classroom instead of the older computers.
Balvitsch listed five ways the use of iPads could improve Kenmare High School, including reducing the amount of paper used, inspiring creativity, improving productivity, reinventing curriculum and reinventing textbooks. He also demonstrated two applications free for use by teachers and students, along with apps related to specific courses and textbooks.
He described the use of iPads as “the next chapter in learning,” and expressed his own enthusiasm for the digital textbooks available, which included interactive videos, charts, illustrations, definitions, quizzes, notetaking capabilities and more, along with traditional text and illustrations. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a textbook that makes it this easy to be a good student,” he said.
Balvitsch presented three price quotes from Apple Inc. related to his proposal, ranging from $16,970 to $19,970, to supply 30 iPads to the district.
Board members expressed their appreciation for Balvitsch’s research and information, but took no action on the proposal.
In Other Business:
• Board members approved minutes of the February meeting and the district’s bills for payment, as presented. During the treasurer’s report, business manager Renae Murphy announced the district received notification requiring at least a 10-cent increase in the cost of school meals, beginning with the 2012-2013 school year.
• The board accepted a letter of resignation from science instructor Thurstan Johnson, who has been teaching at KHS for four years.
• Board members approved 2012-2013 open enrollment applications for two kindergarten and one first grade student from Bowbells, and for three students entering third, sixth and seventh grade from the Mohall Lansford Sherwood School District. The Kenmare school bus stop in Tolley will be the pick-up and drop-off point for the students attending from the Mohall area.
• The board accepted the petition submitted by the Kenmare Education Association to be recognized as the negotiating unit for the district’s licensed teachers.
• Board members approved the revised Library and Attendance/Absence policies as presented on second reading.
• Curriculum and Technology Committee chair Rodin said a textbook rotation review was completed for Kenmare High School, with the majority of texts updated within the past two years. Some older textbook series are still in use by specific teachers, based on their preferences and classroom needs, according to Rodin.
• Negotiations/Finance Committee chair Jan Kostad reported the committee had reviewed the 2012-2013 district budget.
• Building Committee chair Zimmer reported the ceiling tile removal and furnace installation projects at the high school remained priorities. Superintendent Mueller said a company from Washburn was interested in the removal and installation of the ceiling tiles and would be contacting the school to discuss the project further.
• The Building Committee received an estimate for $21,720 from Modern Woodworks and Farden Construction to remove the old furnace room at the elementary school.
• Transportation Committee chair Craig Ellsworth announced the committee recommended postponing the purchase of an activity bus, given that the 2000 model the district wanted to turn in as required was not eligible for the federal grant program. All buses taken out of service under the grant guidelines have to be 1999 or older models. Ellsworth noted the projected cost of $110,000 for a new activity bus and said the committee believed chartering a bus for two extended activity trips next year at approximately $3,000 total cost would be more feasible.
• Murphy announced candidates for open positions on the Kenmare School Board must file their applications by Friday, April 13, 2012, at 4 pm. Seats currently held by Mike Zimmer, Lenny Rodin and Roger Johnson are up for election this year.
• Board members approved coaching contracts for Mike Johnson in boys and girls golf, Nathan Butler in assistant softball, and Kacy Keysor in head track.
• Superintendent Mueller reported each school building had held a lockdown drill with the students and teachers, and both drills had gone successfully, with one concern to be addressed at the high school regarding classroom windows near the front entrance.
Johnson happened to be present at the high school during that drill, and he praised the response he observed. “Our staff and students took it with great seriousness,” he said, “although it’s something I hope we never have to use.”
• Superintendent Mueller announced four individuals had applied for science positions at KHS, with three interviews completed. He said he hoped to make offers for the positions during the next week.
• The board adjourned for an executive session to discuss a legal matter and negotiations strategy. Following the executive session, the board reconvened in an open meeting and approved a motion giving permission to the board’s legal counsel to request an opinion from the Attorney General regarding an alleged open meeting records violation committed June 20, 2011, by the Bowbells Public School District.
• The Building Committee, with members Zimmer, Kostad and Rodin, will schedule a meeting as soon as sketches for the proposed gymnasium and wellness center addition for the high school are received from Davison Larson Associates in Minot.
• A public meeting to review and comment on the long-term demographics of the Kenmare School District, as required by state law, will be held Tuesday, April 17th, beginning at 6 pm at the Kenmare High School auditorium. Kostad said the Building Committee hoped to have architect’s sketches or drawings to show the public at that time for the proposed addition to the high school.
• The regular meeting of the Kenmare school board will take place Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at Kenmare High School, beginning at 7 pm.