Fillmore Central Principal Heath Olstad started discussion on possible high school schedule changes at the Fillmore Central School Board meeting on March 26. He mentioned the high school staff had recently been surveyed and all had said they would like to keep the current four-period day.

Along with Olstad, board members Craig Britton and Emily Ellis explained that an odd/even schedule had been discussed in committee and was being given a more serious look. The odd/even schedule would have students on an every-other day schedule throughout the entire year. Currently, the school operates on a semester schedule for classes

"The overall goal is to provide more consistent instruction year-long," said Britton. "This accomplishes that instead of going to an eight-period day."

Olstad said this change would keep students engaged in subjects like math and English throughout the year.

Chair Ross Kiehne said the district knows that math and reading are opportunity subjects that can benefit the students with prolonged instruction.

Deb Ristau said that may be true in some subjects, but in others, it may not aid the students to switch every other day. Britton mentioned this schedule change would not affect the amount of time the band or choir is allowed every day. The class time for each period would stay at 75 minutes.

Olstad explained there are still some unknowns as to what the change could cost the district and what effect it could have on full-time equivalents (FTE) for the teachers. The change, however, would affect what classes students could take in a year.

A student could not, for example, take a pre-requisite course and then a follow-up or advanced course in the same year. Olstad said discussion on credit requirements would accompany any future talks on the schedule.

"The number one priority is the education of the students," Kiehne shared. He charged the committee to continue to meet and address the problems with the possible schedule change. The odd/even schedule is one of three schedule options that are included in the agreement with the staff.

Principal and dean reports

Olstad congratulated the high school band and choir for their performances at and their hosting of the Large Group Contest on March 20. Both ensembles received superior ratings for their performances. "The kids performed at a very high level," Olstad stated.

Olstad also noted the senior class would be leaving on its class trip to Washington, D.C., and New York City on April 5 and returning on April 14.

Three seniors will miss the last few days of the trip to fly back for participation in the State Knowledge Bowl Tournament in Brainerd. Olstad congratulated the team on their first-place performance at the regional knowledge bowl meet in Rochester on March 21 and their dedication to participating at the state level. He also mentioned that MCA testing had begun for students in third through 11th grade. These tests cover reading, science and math standards.

Fillmore Central Dean of Students Chris Mensink shared that the first grade circus would take place on April 5 at 2 p.m. at the elementary school. The K-6 Spring Music Concert would be held on April 26 at 1 p.m. and the 5-12 Bands Concerts on April 29 at 7 p.m. at the elementary school. The Title I Spring Event would occur on April 10.

Sports scheduling

Speaking as the athletic director as well, Mensink shared a possible move by La Crescent to the Three Rivers Conference. A formal application had been made already and Mensink said the athletic directors would vote on April 24 to let them in or not. Mensink said the addition of La Crescent would present pros and cons to schools in the conference, the major con being travel. The addition would add one conference game to the volleyball schedule and force the basketball teams to play two schools only once during the regular season.

Mensink also shared information on the Southern Football Alliance, which would go into effect next season. The Alliance would restructure the Three Rivers and Hiawatha conferences into three divisions based on school size and class: Red, White and Blue. The Red division would have eight big schools; white, eight mid-sized schools; and blue, nine smaller schools. The Alliance would only effect football teams and their scheduling. The schedule would force Blue division teams to have a bye week. Mensink said this would move the season up a week and practice would begin next year on Aug. 5.

Technology update

Superintendant Richard Keith updated the board on the technology committee meeting and brought up the topic of electronic textbooks.

"I think this is something that will be seen more in schools," he shared.

He mentioned a meeting he had attended that had addressed this topic. There are some e-textbooks being developed, he shared, that allow the teacher to take their own materials and develop their own course while not being restricted to the textbook.

One class in Fillmore Central is already using iPads and an e-textbook and Keith said the school is still looking into this.

"I think we have established a vision for technology in the district," said Keith.

He concluded by talking about a computer distribution strategy that could be implemented if the school became a laptop school. A student could have school-only access, 24-hour access with a damage waiver fee, and/or make lease payments to eventually own a school-purchased laptop.

Other business

In other matters, the school board handled the following issues.

• The board approved the hires of Tim Ostrom as a B-squad softball coach, Chelsey Johnson as a day care aide and Brooke Ruesink and Cody Hendrickson as summer recreation co-directors and staff.

• The board approved the payment of a bill for two Apple-brand laptop computers and 10 iPads for $5,988.

• Student teaching agreements were approved with Luther College, RCTC and Minnesota State University-Moorhead.

• The 2013-14 school calendar was finalized and approved.

• An open enrollment request for a Mabel-Canton preschool student was approved.

• The next board meeting will be April 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the elementary school in Preston.