Flexible learning year approvedWORTHINGTON — In a 4-2 decision Tuesday, the District 518 Board of Education voted to submit its flexible learning year application to the Minnesota Department of Education.
WORTHINGTON — In a 4-2 decision Tuesday, the District 518 Board of Education voted to submit its flexible learning year application to the Minnesota Department of Education.
If approved, the application would allow the district to set a pre-Labor Day start — tentatively Aug. 23 — for its calendar.
The board reversed the decision it made last year, when lack of community support and a tight timeline for implementation caused members to vote down the measure.
A series of public meetings about the change hosted earlier this month drew criticism from teachers and parents, who questioned the efficacy of adding instructional days prior to key state and federal exams.
“Last year I said I was in favor of the concept, and I’m still in favor of the concept,” said board member Bob Jirele. “I think people, myself included, are wary of change. … I think it’s an initiative worth trying. If, after three years it’s not working to improve test scores, I would hope the board would not proceed. I don’t think the sky is going to fall if we approve this.”
Lori Dudley, who chairs the board’s instructional committee agreed.
“I heard a lot of concerns about there being no research about what we’re trying to propose here, but in my mind there’s no research against it either,” she said. “Giving students additional time to learn may or may not help, but it’s not going to hurt.”
Board member Mark Shepherd agreed there was a problem when students in the upper grade levels were not proficient in state standards for reading and math, but he echoed the comments of many public meeting attendees, who said programs to improve instruction and staff development could be achieved without a calendar change.
“I haven’t been convinced that there’s any reason for that change,” he said. “I do not dismiss the concerns of students, parents and teachers, even if they’re personal concerns.”
Shepherd, who joined Brad Shaffer in voting against filing of the application, also said it would be hard to judge scientifically whether the additional instructional days had a positive effect on academic performance.
In other business, the board on Tuesday:
- Approved resignation of Erin Olson as COTA with special programs, Bob Paplow as assistant wrestling coach at the high school, Nicole Turbes as paraprofessional at Prairie Elementary, Jeremy Berger as head middle school golf coach and Bev Froderman as dishwasher at the middle school.
- Approved employment of Dean Schnaible as varsity assistant girls’ basketball coach at the high school, Barb Hogan as Class I Paraprofessional at Prairie, Tracie Luinenburg as head cheerleading coach at the high school, Connie Erlandson as Class I Paraprofessional at the Area Learning Center, Gene Scheidt as scoreboard girls’ basketball with the high school, and of Shelly Gieselman as long-term paraprofessional substitute at Prairie and Lisa Grothe as long-term substitute special education paraprofessional with the high school.
- Rescinded resignation of Brad Hoffman as custodian at the middle school
- Approved Jorge Lopez as Nobles County Integration Collaborative District Community representative.
- Discussed whether the school should continue to designate specific release time for students participating in religious activities.
- Approved the hiring of the SW/WC Service Cooperative to complete a technology audit of the district.
- Approved school calendar adjustments for the 2009-2010 school year. To make up for the snow days, there will be a half-day of class March 15 and June 4.