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District 518 opts out of accreditation process

“Realistically, as I said, we’re spending about five grand for a banner or a plaque or whatever the heck we’ll get in return, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me."

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Worthington High School. Tim Middagh / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON — Worthington schools will not go through Cognia’s national accreditation process this school year, the District 518 Board of Education decided during its regular meeting Tuesday.

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“What do we get out of it?” asked school board member Brad Shaffer. “Seriously, we’re doing all the work anyway.”

The board’s instructional committee had discussed the matter at its meeting earlier in the month. Accreditation is required for private schools but not for public schools.

Cognia’s accreditation process has shifted over time. In previous years, accreditation groups were quicker to send teams to meet with teachers, do surveys and review the school’s work onsite, said Josh Noble, the district’s director of instruction.

“They’re shifting far more to a self-assessment as opposed to outside reviewers coming in, being a part of our district for a week, and actually having time to get to know what we’re doing,” Noble said.

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In addition, the state has put more and more accountability measures in place for public schools, requiring more plans and assessments be shared at the state level.

“This definitely feels like additional work that is not necessary to help us grow,” Noble said.

When teams visited, the process cost $10,000 to $15,000, and now it will cost around $5,000, said Superintendent John Landgaard.

“Realistically, as I said, we’re spending about five grand for a banner or a plaque or whatever the heck we’ll get in return, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” Shaffer said. “If we could do something to improve ourselves with their assistance, that’s one thing, but I think we can improve ourselves without spending that money.”

The board unanimously voted not to participate in the Cognia accreditation process.

In other news Tuesday, the board:

  • Approved an out-of-town band trip in 2023 to San Diego, California, to participate in the Holiday Bowl halftime performance and parade.
  • Accepted donations from Smith Trucking for the WHS Trojans dance team, Southwest Initiative Foundation for the Discovery Room at Prairie Elementary, JBS for the art program at the Learning Center and the marching band’s trip to Cuero, Texas, Bethany Fellows for the band trip, Worthington Optimists for the Boost Up Room and winter clothing at Prairie Elementary, and the Worthington Garden Club for Prairie Elementary.
  • Approved six employee requests for sick leave due to pregnancy and two requests for child care leave, which is unpaid.
  • Listened to and approved its 2021-2022 audit report, which gave a clean rating.
  • Approved an increase in pay for licensed substitute teachers to $200 per day.
  • Approved a half-time Spanish interpreter position.
  • Approved first readings of policies on public data and data subject requests, building and site names and credit cards.
  • Approved purchase of 2,200 iPads at a cost to the district of $17,490. The rest of the costs will be paid for through federal Emergency Connectivity Funding, to the tune of nearly $900,000.
  • Opened bids for redoing the Worthington Middle School parking lot on the west side of the building.
  • Approved six student expulsions. While information about the expulsions was not publicly available due to student privacy requirements, school board member Brad Shaffer said he hoped the expulsions sent a message to people that the school will not tolerate “these kinds of activities” any longer.
  • Agreed to participate in the Nobles Home Initiative, which offers property tax abatement to people building new housing units, from 2023 to 2027.
A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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