High school students at Fillmore Central will start attending more classes per day during the next school year. The school board approved a switch from the current four-period day to an eight-period day during its regular meeting last Tuesday evening. The switch would cause many semester-long classes to be lengthened to year-long courses and quarter classes to be lengthened to semester courses.

Principal Heath Olstad presented additional information about how the schedule would work, logistically. Teachers would teach six courses a day and Olstad spoke of possibly creating double periods for lab-based classes. Double periods would also allow students to take a pre-requisite course one semester and a follow up course the next, while still maintaining year-long instruction.

Olstad said he had surveyed the faculty in seeing what would work the best for the teachers and the students. "Their number one choice was to keep what they have," shared Olstad. "The four period day has truly been excellent, so I think we can tie in more extended periods with the eight period day."

The decision to switch up the high school schedule had been a topic of debate since last year. Multiple schedules were presented including an every-other day schedule.

"Talking to staff, that didn't seem optimal," stated Olstad. Currently, the seventh and eighth grades use the every-other day schedule for English and math classes.

Chairman Ross Kiehne said, "I think you looked at every single aspect. We've been going after this for a while."

Olstad said several things haven't been determined, but that the school would be ready for the schedule beginning next year. He also said they would be able to allow students to participate in both band and choir under the new schedule.

Technology

It was also reported, at the meeting, that Fillmore Central will also be beginning its one-to-one computer plan, which will provide a laptop to every high school student and an iPad to every middle school student.

The board approved sending out information regarding policy, procedures, and frequently asked questions to students and parents about the program.

Students will have three options with their laptop or iPad. They can use it only at school for no-cost, pay a $45 damage waiver fee and be able to take it home, or make installment payments in order to eventually purchase the laptop.

Superintendent Richard Keith said the school will be holding a parent meeting in May to address questions, if need be. The school purchased 175 laptops and 50 iPads and has insurance coverage on them.

Principal and dean's reports

Olstad shared with the board that the senior class trip from April 5 through April 14 had been very successful. He said many students had positive comments about many aspects of the trip.

He noted three students left the trip early to make it back for the state Knowledge Bowl meet. He congratulated the team of Kirby O'Connor, Alex Johnson, Nathaniel Harrison, Zach Case and advisor Brad Holten for their representation of the school at the April 11 and 12 competition in Brainerd.

Olstad updated the board on upcoming events, including prom on April 27, the spring band concert on April 29 and the Big Band Bash on May 4 with a special guest artist performance on May 3.

It was announced that the seventh and eighth grade band was chosen to perform at the Wisconsin Dells Music Festival during the next school year. Olstad congratulated Director Lane Powell and the students that made it possible to be able to perform at the event. He also mentioned the high school is expecting 97 students to participate next year. This, he said, would mean the school would have to purchase new uniforms for marching and concert band.

Dean of Students Chris Mensink shared information about upcoming field trips for the elementary grades. The fifth and sixth grades will be heading to the capitol on May 1. In celebration of Arbor Day, the fourth through sixth grades planted trees at POET Biorefining on April 29.

Speaking as the athletic director, Mensink noted that spring sports were in session although baseball, softball and golf seasons were shortened by several games.

Sign up for fall sports is underway, and Mensink said they are gauging interest again to combine with Lanesboro for a cross-country team.

Community education report

Community Education Coordinator Holly Kanengieter presented a review of 2012-2013 in Fillmore Central Community Education to the board. She said the Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program is continuing to grow. Their Friday morning sessions averaged 12 families and their Monday evenings, 10.

ECFE put on events like the Father/Daughter Dance, Mom/Son Sports Camp, Love and Logic Parent Session, two Easter egg hunts, Breakfast with Santa and the Jack Pearson concert. Kanengieter said around 20 high school students had been involved with these various activities to help out.

She said ECFE will hold two early childhood screenings for ages three through five in August and February.

Kanengieter also shared there were 73 kids registered from 47 families in the School-Age Child Care program (SAC). The program provides a supervised environment for children in grades K-6. She said a registration open house for summer SAC will take place from April 29 through May 3.

Kanengieter spoke about the AMERI-Corps program which helps students one-on-one. The staff person helps with 12 preschoolers with emotional and social skills.

The School Readiness program had five sections of 3-5 year olds with a total of 69 students. The Day Care program has 82 registered while being licensed for 80 students. Kanengieter said they will be expecting a licensure visit this summer.

The summer recreation program will be going into its second year as the combined Harmony and Preston program.

Youth and adult enrichment programs include art classes, baked goods classes, Lego League, homework help, fifth and sixth grade boys and girls basketball, chess club and youth wrestling.

She pointed out that soccer, football, basketball camps would take place this summer as well. A basic computer class was offered, but cancelled due to low enrollment. A 55 Alive refresher and beginner class was held.

In concluding, Kanengieter shared that Fillmore Central had received a Book Start Grant and 200 books for summer literacy programs during the summer. They also received a READ Grant from the Southeast Minnesota Initiative Foundation and 75 books for next year's early childhood screenings.

Other news

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

• The board accepted the letter of resignation of head boys basketball and B squad football coach Aaron Janssen and assistant football coach Tom Siebenaler. The board also approved the resignation of senior call adviser Joe Stevens, who had served since 2003. Olstad complimented Stevens and the years of service he had given to the school.

• The board approved a new summer school program for students K-5, which would run for two weeks at three hours per day and be run by Title I staff.

• Tickets for this year's high school spring musical will be increased for adults to $5. The student rate will remain at $3. The board approved the increase in order to help defray the cost of this year's production, "Grease." The play will be performed May 10 and 11 at 8 p.m. in the stage gym in Harmony.

• The board approved the addition of three days to the end of the year to make up for snow days. The students' last day will be May 21.