The Fillmore Central School Board discussed changes within the school policy concerning snow days during its regular meeting last Tuesday, March 24. After its discussion, the board approved the changes to do what is best for both the students and district.

In the old policy, students and teachers would have been required to make up four days as a result of the numerous snow days acquired this past school year. If this had remained the case, the students would have returned to school on Monday, June 9, for their final day of school. The teachers would have returned on Tuesday, June 10 for their last day.

Rather than continuing with this policy, the board decided to eliminate some of those days and have the student's last day on Friday, June 6. The students will be served lunch and sent home after a half-day of school. The teachers will then return on Monday to wrap up their projects for the school year.

With ending school at this time, the school could begin on many facility projects as planned.

"These projects could most likely begin on Monday even with the teachers there," said Superintendent Richard Keith. Both Harmony and Fillmore County would also be able to commence the street and utility improvements scheduled for First Avenue Southwest, behind the high school.

Along with the calendar change, Keith suggested a solution to missed days in the school year with the advice of the teachers' representative. This suggestion is to change the policy to excuse the first missed day, make up the next three days by adding days to the end of the calendar and require teachers to either complete staff development programs or use PTO for any missed days beyond the first four days.

With the board's approval, this will be included in the policy change and the calendar committee would begin work on the 2014-2015 school calendar with this in mind.

Principal's report

In his report to the board, Heath Olstad highlighted several student honors and upcoming events.

On Monday, March 17, the high school band and choir students participated in a large group music contest at Caledonia High School. Both received superior ratings.

As the end of the third quarter concluded on Friday, March 21, the staff had its in-service day on Monday, March 24. During this they all received training in CPR, which is completed on a two-year cycle.

Monday, March 24, also saw a large number of new members inducted into the National Honors Society.

The seventh and eighth grade band has been given the great honor to perform at Wisconsin Dells on Thursday, April 3.

On Friday, April 4, the seniors will leave on their class trip and will be due to return on Sunday, April 13. This is an exciting time for them and there are only a few more preparations to wrap up prior to departure, Olstad reported.

While the seniors are on their own trip, freshmen through juniors will travel to the Science Museum in the Cities on Tuesday, April 8.

MCA tests will begin in the very near future. They will be provided for grades three through eight as well as sophomores and juniors. This year, the tests will be administered completely online at both the Preston and Harmony site.

Dean of students' report

Dean of Students Chris Mensink updated the board on activities at the elementary as well as some of the recent athletic department news.

The Title I spring event and breakfast took place on Thursday, March 6, with a very good turnout.

Kindergarten Round-Up took place on Tuesday, March 18, with the teachers explaining upcoming assessments, shots paperwork, busing, routines, curriculum, supplies and discipline. Mensink expressed gratitude to the organizers for all the hard work.

The elementary school gained five new students in March in grades one, two, three and five. However, the school did lose one fifth grader.

Spring sports have all started with numbers that were expected. The first games are postponed because of the remaining snow cover and cooler weather.

The Fillmore Central Booster Club and Birds of Prey Booster Club have consolidated with their first official meeting on Tuesday, March 25. (See related story in this issue.)

Eight students participated in the conference speech meet and seven individuals advanced on to the sectional meet in Canon Falls.

A committee has been formed to place schools into conference based on similar sized districts for the 2015 season. These would include around 16 schools in the districts. Since the 2015 football state tournament will not be at the regular stadium, the season will begin on Aug. 10 with two weeks of practice prior to the beginning of the games. The Fillmore Central team has petitioned to stay in the 11-man schedule.

Upcoming events for the calendar begin with the MCA testing season starting shortly.

On Friday, April 25, the first grade circus was scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. However, due to the large number of students, the circus is looking to start at 1:30 p.m. instead.

The spring music concert for kindergarten through sixth grade will take place on Friday, April 11, at 1 p.m. The spring band concert, for fifth grade through seniors, will be held on Monday, April 28, at 8 p.m. in Preston. Spring Break approaches on April 17 through 21. Incoming kindergarten assessments will take place on May 1 and May 2.

Director of special education's report

According to Micki Breitsprecher, director of special education, staff is still waiting for the number of students who meet eligibility for the extended school year to determine staffing needs. Tentative dates for the program are July 28 to Aug. 1 and Aug. 4 to Aug. 8 for the center-based program. The times for students will be from 8 to 11 a.m. in Preston. Dates and times will soon be shared with the parents.

As due process requirements have become increasingly complex, Fillmore Central has offered to support special education teachers through work nights, giving them more time to complete mandated paperwork. These nights are not required to attend, but staff is welcome to come for the entire or part of the night.

Breitsprecher explained she is there to support the staff who are given paid time to focus on due process, and the district reimburses them from special education federal funds for the time they attend. The expectations are the same for the quality and timeliness of the paperwork regardless if staff attends the session or not.

Through a survey she sent out, Breitsprecher noted several staff thought the nights were effective. Because of this, she is looking to the four nights in Harmony, Preston, Wykoff and Spring Valley and will ask the staff to pick the most suitable date for them a few weeks prior to the end of the quarter. Hosting one night in two locations will be considered based on the technology and staffing resources.

She also told the board the Root River Program currently has seven students enrolled. Five of the seven are in seventh and eighth grade. Over the past several years, there have been more students from the younger grades needing support.

Other business

There were two resignations approved by the board. Chelsey Johnson resigned as a day care aid and Jim Schott resigned as custodian.

The board approved the agreement with Luther College to place education department students into the Fillmore Central classrooms or programs for practical experiences.

The search for a new scoreboard continues. The plan is to use the scoreboards presently in the varsity gym as replacements for the old scoreboard in the stage gym in Harmony. A few options to consider included replacing the scoreboard currently installed or upgrading to a single scoreboard with more features in the center of the gym, opposite the bleachers and a smaller scoreboard at each end of the gym. The board received two quotes from companies supplying scoreboards, but the approval was tabled until more information is known.