District 518 takes next step toward new calendarWORTHINGTON — In a 6-1 vote, the District 518 Board of Education took the next step in addressing a flexible learning year calendar at its Tuesday night meeting.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — In a 6-1 vote, the District 518 Board of Education took the next step in addressing a flexible learning year calendar at its Tuesday night meeting.
District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard said the proposal did not lock the district into implementing the new calendar for the 2010-2011 school year. Final action to approve or reject the flexible learning year concept would come after the application had been submitted to Minnesota’s Commissioner of Education, he added.
“We will continue to look at if it’s good for our school district,” Landgaard said.
Landgaard presented a timeline to board members that included completing the application between December and March, and hosting public meetings again in January. Three public meetings on the new calendar were previously conducted in May.
Board member Brad Shaffer said he wasn’t against the flexible calendar, but he requested some fact-finding be done to “make sure this will be best for our students.”
He cited concerns about the timing of the new calendar, considering that the middle school may be under construction next summer.
“It will shorten (the construction season) by two weeks,” Shaffer said. “I find it hard to support the potential of not having that project done because we decided to shorten the summer (for students and staff).”
He asked if the district could wait a year before submitting the application.
Board member Stephen Schnieder, on the other hand, encouraged the board to consider moving forward with the application.
“If it’s appropriate for us to delay … we can always make that decision,” Schnieder said. “It’s important for us to keep this process moving.
At this time, there are 24 schools in southwest Minnesota that are expected to move forward with the request to the state.
Landgaard said the real goal of the flexible learning year calendar is academic improvement.
“From my point of view, it’s a great opportunity for our school district and a great opportunity for our kids,” he added. “We want to get more days of instructional time prior to those high-stakes tests. You can’t do that if you start after Labor Day — you lose those 7 to 10 days.”
In other business, the board:
- Approved the Education Minnesota Worthington master agreement for 2009-2011. The salary and benefits for teachers will increase 3.24 percent for 2009-2010 and 2.9 percent for 2010-2011 with a total two-year salary and benefits package increase of 6.28 percent. Of the increase, teachers will see a base salary increase of 1.5 percent for each year of the two-year contract.
The new contract is retroactive to July 1, and will include two additional student contact days in 2010-2011, and an additional personal day for staff.
- Approved a $66,000 reduction of the debt service levy. This is in addition to the state’s reduction, and results in an overall reduction of $176,750, or approximately $70 per pupil.
- Approved a series of resolutions relating to the sale of bonds for the building addition at the Worthington Middle School. The resolutions included $1.92 million in certificates of participation A-series bonds; $8.225 million in general obligation alternative facilities bonds; $1.07 million in 2010 C-series bonds; and $2.375 million in B-series bonds.
- Declared several items as surplus property, including a 1989 mini bus that did not pass inspection for this school year. In addition, the board approved a request to obtain quotes and purchase an 8-passenger van for the district. The van will be purchased through special ed dollars.
- Approved the resignation of Jill Cuperus as ELL Paraprofessional at Prairie Elementary.
- Approved the employment of Virgil Reemts as transportation paraprofessional with Special Programs, Jake Steffl as lunch room supervisor at Worthington Middle School, Derek Busswitz as lunch room supervisor at WMS, Juliann Fitzsimmons as Special Olympics Advisor for the district, Bev Froderman as dishwasher at WMS, Pamela Westendorf as 21st Century Youth Program secretary with Community Education, Cayleen Mackey as assistant dance team coach at Worthington High School, Rachel Ponto as ELL paraprofessional at Prairie, Zach Dingmann as ninth grade boys’ basketball coach at WHS, Ken Karwoski as head girls’ hockey coach at WHS.
- Approved an overload for Gail Holinka of a .08 full-time equivalency and overload for Colleen Duba of a .08 full-time equivalency.
- Accepted the following donations made in September: Prairie Elementary received a donation from Life Touch Pictures and the High School Art Club received a donation from the Worthington Optimist Club for a Relay for Life quilt.
- Nominated school board member Linden Olson to serve on the board of directors of the SW/WC Service Cooperative.
- Approved the campus messenger contract, which will allow the school district to notify students, parents and staff via e-mail, text message or telephone if there is a school emergency or for weather-related information.