Principal Heath Olstad provided an extensive report on student and staff activities during last week's school board meeting at Fillmore Central.
Principal Heath Olstad provided an extensive report on student and staff activities during last week's school board meeting at Fillmore Central.
Fillmore Central has chosen next year not to participate in SEMLAC, the professional development community that resulted following the failure of the flexible learning year (FLY) calendar proposal last year. Instead, it will use Editure, a software-based professional development learning system that will allow staff to study different disciplines of education, allow classroom observation, and also track data related to professional development.

Fillmore Central Superintendent Richard Keith cited during the March meeting, held last Tuesday, "Editure has over 200 units of professional development learning" and that "Observation Pro, which accompanies it, allows the principal, the superintendent or another teacher to observe what they've learned and what's taking place in the classroom."

He stated that participation in SEMLAC has been helpful to the district, but that the expectation that a few members of staff would attend and then return to their respective schools to share what they've learned requires staff time, substitute teachers and the resources to hold in-house professional learning seminars.

"It was good, but the expectation was that we could create learning opportunities for the rest of the staff," he said. "Editure allows us to have peer evaluations of our staff."

Furthermore, the cost of participation in SEMLAC is rising from $6 per student to $8 per student, and Fillmore Central is able to expend $2,000 for the program and $2,500 for staff training, which may provide a savings. "Editure would show professional growth in areas and track data, and I think it would do a better job of holding us accountable," Keith concluded.

The board then voted to approve the use of Editure and also renewed its professional services agreement with A&F Services.

Principal report

Principal Heath Olstad gave a very busy update of school activities during his monthly report, including that the high school band and choir have gone to competitions recently and that the "band was one point away from a perfect score."

The end of the third quarter of the 2011-2012 school year was Friday, March 23, and a teacher workshop day was held Monday, March 26, with staff being trained in CPR and in the use of teacher websites.

"They also had time to review the new language arts curriculum during their workshop," Olstad related, going on to speak about the senior class trip to Washington, D.C., for which the students departed Thursday and will return Saturday, April 7.

"The community has given amazing support. Over $15,000 to $20,000 in pop can money has been given through the collection at the grocery store. Most of the kids are going - there are three or four who are not," he said.

He then thanked Jim Shupe and Nate Mandelko for bringing the IBM Engineering Week project to the district once more, recounting, "This year, it was a windmill project and the kids had some very creative solutions."

Dean of students report

Dean of Students Chris Mensink congratulated the first graders and their teachers, Sara Niemeyer and Janet Prinsen, for "an outstanding show" given at the annual first grade circus.

He outlined the success of the district's kindergarten roundup, which took place on Tuesday, March 20. "We had 48 signed up, had 50 at the event, and we had a guess at somewhere between 55 and 62 students. Right now, we're thinking a solid 61, and we're excited about that number," he added.

Budget

Board member John Torgrimson brought up the budget for 2012-2013.

"We met and reviewed the old budget," Torgrimson explained. "There was a lot to discuss...there were increases and decreases in the budget, but they were in line with what we previously approved."

He pointed out that technological advances in the school system would require funding, as the district is considering leasing or purchasing personal computing devices for its students.

"We have to find $100,000 to provide the infrastructure and technical support this kind of effort requires...and whether leasing versus buying iPads and netbooks for students makes the most sense in the short term. The question is whether three years into the decision, should we make this more permanent?" Torgrimson pondered. "We don't have a detailed plan...we want to provide the infrastructure before we go down the road."

Keith commented, "So it would be $200,000 we need for technology."

The board approved the revised budget.

Discussion items

Items for discussion included installing a driveway on Circle Heights Drive in Preston to create access to the ball fields behind the elementary school. A bid from Scheevel & Sons at $4,911 was reviewed before the board chose to allow the installation to occur.

Next, the board granted an open enrollment request to a tenth grader who currently attends Fillmore Central but would like to attend school in another district.

It tabled its Internet use policy as presented because of ambiguous language that did not specify whether the policy would be in effect immediately or if it would be for the 2012-2013 school year.

The board spoke on the cheerleading program and whether the girls participating should appear only at football games as requested by advisor Melissa Kiehne. Board member Sue Sikkink suggested that while that request has validity, having the cheerleaders appear at Parents' Night for each sport might boost their visibility and add festivity to the games. Fellow members agreed that it would bring attention to the squad and to Fillmore Central sports programs.

Personnel items

Lastly, in personnel matters, the board accepted the retirements of Jane Montgomery and Diane Hadoff, thanking them for their respective years of service to the district.

Jill Hoover resigned as a custodian, and the board replaced her with Brian Wolfgram, Arden Wilford and Brenda Hahn for the remainder of the year - each will be assigned specific days of the week - and at the end of the year, Wolfgram will take the position for 30 hours a week.

Additionally, Olstad and Keith Larson resigned from coaching boys' basketball, and though the district typically posts winter sports coaching positions the season before, the board felt that getting a head start on hiring might be beneficial. Board members also thanked Olstad for his dedication to the basketball program, and Olstad in turn thanked the board for allowing him to coach even though he's a member of the administration and busy with the tenets of school operations.