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WHS student advocates for collaborative

WORTHINGTON -- Former Worthington High School student Nicole Ektnitphong addressed the Worthington School District Board of Education Tuesday, speaking about the ongoing student achievement gap issue and one of the several solutions to the problem.

Ektnitphong said creating a more visible outlet for the Nobles County Integration Collaborative could help students, especially those who are falling behind academically, reach out to the existing resources.

Her presentation addressed the existing disparities in District 518, the goals and opportunities provided by the collaborative and ways to strengthen the connection between the collaborative and the schools.

"I wanted to work on something that I could apply what I've learned in school to my hometown, Worthington, where I've grown up," she said, adding the project was for a public discourse class in college. "That's where I looked at what issues Worthington is facing."

She suggested four methods the school district could use to enhance support for the collaborative -- establishing an office space in each building for the staff to work from, providing space in common areas such as the library or the cafeteria where the collaborative staff can work with students for several hours during the day, designating bulletin board areas in school buildings to avoid confusion when students are seeking information about events and continuing to support the state legislature funding for integration.

Ektnitphong is currently a freshman at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Apart from Ektnitphong's presentation, school board members recognized tenured teachers during the meeting.

In other business, school board members approved:

* Nobles County Integration Collaborative (NCIC) Plan, Joint Powers Agreement, and bylaws.

* Second reading of policies, school board officers, public participation in school board meetings/complaints about persons at school board meetings and data privacy considerations, school district administration and superintendent.

* Resolution for 2012-2013 membership in the Minnesota State High School League.

* Student teacher agreements with Southwest Minnesota State University and Bemidji State University.

* Computer bids from Marco for $178,342 for desktop computers, laptops and mobile units. District 518 director of management services, Dave Skog, explained the district will be receiving 70 desktop computers, 68 laptops, and 30 mobile computers on carts.

* Salary and benefits increase for 2012-2014 for: NCIC program coordinator, 5.12 percent; NCIC youth initiative coordinator, 5.48 percent; NCIC program aids, 5.28 percent, technology integration specialists, 5.5 percent, and database network specialist, 5.49 percent.

* Contract for Sharon Johnson as the new community education director. Johnson's contract is effective July 1.

* Resignations of Tammy Timko as coordinator of teaching and learning, Ellen Baker-Merrigan and Sam Becker as student council advisors at the high school, Pat Christopherson as head boys hockey coach with the high school, Lindsay Anderson as coordinator with the EDGE program, Jason Grovom as assistant principal at Prairie Elementary, and Sara Zins as early childhood special education teacher at Prairie Elementary.

* Employment of Tammy Timko as fourth grade teacher at Prairie Elementary, Steve Berndgen as seventh grade math teacher at the middle school, Ashley Chicos as special education teacher at the high school, Emily Ahlquist as head girls soccer coach with the high school and Smitty Ektnitphong as head boys soccer coach with the high school.

* Acceptance of donations for April from Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation and Dean Foods Save 5 promotion.

* Employees for extended school year 2012.

* Wide area network agreement with Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative.