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District 518 board approves FLY annual report, sets date for Truth in Taxation meeting

WORTHINGTON -- The September meeting of the District 518 Board of Education, hosted Tuesday at the Worthington High School (WHS) media center, was snappy and routine.

With only two guests in attendance for a portion of the session, and all board members present for the entire 45-minute assembly, unanimous approval of agendas, meeting minutes and reports was the rule.

"It's always nice to see people showing an interest," said board chairman Brad Shaffer in welcoming the visitors.

Thereafter, board member Steve Schnieder extended thanks on behalf of the board to staff members who assembled the float representing District 518 in the King Turkey Day parade. The float garnered first prize.

Added Shaffer, "And the Worthington Middle School and Worthington High School bands did a terrific job in the Turkey Day parade, too."

Following the unanimous board approval of the three-page consent agenda, Director of Business Management Dave Skog presented the monthly financial overview, saying, "There are no unexpected revenues or expenditures at this point."

Skog also said he had learned the annual Truth in Taxation hearing could be held at the same time as a regular meeting of the school board, as long as it did not begin before 6 p.m. Hence, District 518's 2012 Truth in Taxation hearing was set for Dec. 18 at 6 p.m.

The District 518 board also agreed to set the proposed 2012 levy for its maximum amount, which will result in an approximately 1.27 percent increase in the coming year.

To assist with an assessment of the district's facilities and programming needs, a $14,000 contract with the consulting group ATS&R was approved. Representatives from ATS&R will meet with up to 65 invited community members on the evenings of Sept. 25, Oct. 8, Oct. 23 and Nov. 12, with results due from the consulting group by Dec. 15.

In the superintendent's report, Superintendent John Landgaard said District 518 was exploring how to advance opportunities for the WMS and WHS science clubs. Also, he said if District 518 were to submit an application for continuing with the Flexible Learning Year (FLY) calendar, two public meetings would be scheduled for December and early January.

"The Aug. 16 inservice, held in cooperation with all 25 FLY districts, seemed positive and was successful," Landgaard said. The district's FLY annual report will be posted on the District 518 web site, Landgaard explained, with most of it being similar to that of the other participating districts. Items specific to District 518 can be seen on pages 7, 8 to 14 (regarding test scores), and 13. The latter page discusses the "Closing the Achievement Gap" score.

"Of course, that is a hot button, but our district has had more success with it than most," Landgaard said of the effort to close the achievement gap. "We've done better with it than all other schools except in the area of special education mathematics."

Landgaard mentioned Daktronics had approached him about placing new scoreboards, with some video and statistics-display ability, in the WHS gym. The two boards would cost $85,000, and Landgaard suggested seeking $10,000 sponsorships from eight individuals or businesses to fund them. He requested feedback from board members on this topic by the end of this week.

Board member Linden Olson, reporting for the operations committee, said the question of school bussing had been brought up, with consensus being that District 518 understood the earlier problems faced by students and their families and knew what needed to be done to solve them.

"Who should people contact with bus questions?" Schnieder asked.

Said Skog, "We welcome people to call us at the District office any time with questions, but there should be someone at the main bus terminal if they call 343-2000.

"The bus company seems to be making a real effort to turn things around and get it done right."

Schnieder and Olson also offered brief accounts of the recent district meetings they had attended of the Minnesota Rural Education Association and the Minnesota School Board Association.

Among other recommended actions approved by the board were:

* Employment of Joe Krivarchka as 9th grade boys' basketball coach at WHS.

* Employment of Eric Milbrath as head girls' hockey coach at WHS.

* Employment of Gabriela Ceron as assistant girls' hockey coach at WHS.

* Employment of Lah Gay Htoo as part-time bilingual aide at the Nobles County Integration Collaborative.

* Employment of Kerry Johnson and Kayla DeBoer as WHS student council advisors.

* Acceptance of donations from First State Bank Southwest for the baseball field scoreboard, memorials for Dennis Martens to WMS science and Action for Healthy Kids for WHS garden project.

* Funding the Rural Quick Start Program grant in the amount of $5,000.

The next regular District 518 board meeting is scheduled for at 5:15 p.m. on Oct. 16.