Board gets update on Early Childhood program

WORTHINGTON -- The District 518 Board of Education opened its first meeting of the new year with a presentation from Tara Thompson, the district's early childhood gamily screening coordinator. The Early Childhood program received a $92,745 Pathwa...


WORTHINGTON - The District 518 Board of Education opened its first meeting of the new year with a presentation from Tara Thompson, the district’s early childhood gamily screening coordinator.
The Early Childhood program received a $92,745 Pathway II Early Learning Scholarship in October 2013.
“Each participant can qualify for up to $5,000 so, dividing that by the $92,745, we figured out that we can serve 18 families in the district,” Thompson said.
With the money, the Even Start (ES) Family Literacy program will be enhanced. Kindergarten-bound children in the program will have a two-week session after completion of regular ES to attend by themselves for exposure to a similar setting they’ll have in kindergarten. Students will also receive a fall school supplies packet, and students in spring will receive a backpack for kindergarten entrance in the fall. The school will purchase another computer and iPad for a second early childhood classroom.
The program also plans to expand and offer a once-a-week preschool experience. There were 32 slots for October 2013, and 32 more slots for January have now been created. Currently, the school has 29 in the morning classes and 23 in the afternoon classes.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved district and building goals. Among the district’s goals are: providing education for all staff so that they can differentiate the curriculum and instruction for all learning abilities; expand and enhance the use of data and data-based decision making; encourage students and families to be active participants in the educational process; and to utilize continual interventions, supports, evaluations and accountability to ensure student achievement.
Among the building goals approved were: Prairie Elementary’s aim to increase average student math MCA scores from 56 percent in 2013 to 65 percent in 2014; a Worthington Middle School goal for all students in grades 5-8 to meet the state proficiency average on the MCA science test; and a Worthington High School goal to have its number of students who fail one or more classes per term will decrease by 5 percent in 2014.
Also discussed during the meeting was the Minnesota School Boards Association Leadership Conference, which all of District 518’s members attended.
“This conference consisted of over 100 workshops and presentations,” Board Chairman Linden Olson said. “About 1,200 school board members and 250 superintendents attended, and I’m proud to say that all board members and our superintendent were present.”
Members of the board shared some their experiences at the conference and how they can bring what they learned to District 518.
“I attended a community engagement presentation that encouraged us to engage all members to utilize students for community involvement,” board member Mark Shepherd said. “The presenter said how amazed he was by what the students were capable of.”
Board member Scott Rosenberg talked about a mobile app system that was discussed.
“It was called ‘Taking Down the Walls,’ and it talked about a district who used social media to inform parents and grandparents what was going on throughout the day,” Rosenberg said. “If the kids were going on a field trip or something there would be live video of it, so if a parent couldn’t make it to the trip or event they could still see what was going on.”
Linda Lund, the Nobles County Integration Collaborative (NCIC) coordinator, presented to the board for approval a trip to Los Angeles to view the El Sistema program. The program uses music education as a means to both individual empowerment and social transformation. Its goal is to rescue children from the multiple dangers of poverty, as well as from the sense of hopelessness and low self-esteem that can lead to failure in school and a self-perpetuating cycle of poverty.
For District 518, the NCIC plans to implement the program in grades 4-5 to start. The trip was approved during the meeting.
To close the meeting Superintendent John Landgaard said there will be another work session for the board at the end of February or early March.

Daily Globe Reporter
Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

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