During the Lanesboro School Board meeting on Thursday, April 17, Jim Gladis related the benefits of the Plato Software in the education of the Lanesboro students. Several teachers, including Gladis, regularly use the software.

Plato is an online system that helps students struggling on certain subjects in school. If a student is not making the percentage necessary for a passing grade, the teacher can identify what areas the student needs help with. Rather than failing the course all together, and confusing the course load of future years, the student can focus on the areas to work on with the Plato Software.

The software gives the student the option to go through the area in such a way that they understand it and can attain success in the subject. The same matter will be covered for ninth and tenth graders, but if one does not understand it at that level, Plato teaches the problem in more simple terms for the student to understand it. However, the program itself also brings the student up to the right level of understanding, building up his or her self-esteem.

Interacting with the site is also an option, giving the student the ability to see and hear how to work through problems through hands-on situations. Students are able to manipulate items on the screen ensuring several ways for them to learn what confuses them.

Using Plato offers students a supplemental way of instruction in case students do not understand how the teacher describes the problem area, Gladis also explained. They can access the software at home and the amount of time and work they do is logged into the software so the teacher knows the student is completing the work required.

General students who are not struggling, but wish to learn more, also have the option to use Plato. Plato is offered to seventh graders to seniors, though a new contract with the company does allow for some lower level items at a lower price.

Grades are not given by the software itself but by the teacher. The final grade for the year will be the average of the grades the student had and has earned. Still, the student must have attained at least 80 percent of what the teacher has determined he or she must work on.

Plato Software has been phased into the school for the past few years. Gladis offers a physical science class through the software every other year.

In addition to offering credit recovery, the software has also helped a number of students that once traveled to an alternative school in a neighboring district, assisting them in understanding the subjects. Rather than six or seven students going to that school, only one or two go now as a result of utilizing the Plato Software.

Technology update

Brett Clarke informed the board that several of the school laptops are under warranty until next year, giving the school the option to buy updated computers on a schedule of one grade per year. Most options offered now are touch screen computers with Windows 8. With the advance in technology, anything bought now will not be like what they have previously gotten even when buying from the same vendor.

There is discussion on moving computers into the seventh and eighth grade rooms as well, which Dave Lawstuen expressed a desire to see happen. The question remains, however, of the students bringing their laptops home.

The elementary computer lab upgraded to 64-byte computers and iPads have been brought into the elementary school.

Students are now capable to access files on Google Docs or EvacPac from the Internet. Those who do not have Internet have a 20-gigabyte device to save files on to take home.

Finally, Clarke and Jeff Boggs discussed the possibility of acquiring digital textbooks for the students rather than hard copy. There are tremendous pros and cons to these types of texts, however.

Digital textbooks are expensive and often only give a student a year's access to the book when offered on the Internet. If connected to the Internet, the book would interact with the student by providing a video link the student could see to understand the subject matter. In contrast, if the school uses regular hard copies and they are well cared for, the texts can be used for several years. Still, lugging around a heavy textbook verses having one on the computer is not so appealing either.

Clarke and Boggs are often going back and forth over this issue because of the attractiveness of the digital textbook and how much it will cost.

Chairman Dave Ruen emphasized he would like to see a list of all the pros and cons to such a digital move.

Property committee assignments

Ruen related walking around the school area and recognized certain areas being so scraped by the snow removal this year that there is no grass remaining. He asked the property committee to walk around and see these areas as well.

He also received a request by Kim Charlebois to put up a small fence around the yard she rents from the school to keep her two-year-old grandchild from venturing too far away. As she rents the house from the school, the request was to have the school district pay for the fence. Ruen assigned the property committee to look into the problem and bring back a proposal to the board.

Other business

With the pending project of installing a new playground coming up this summer, Ruen and Steve Snyder meet with the Park Board to discuss the views of the school board. Several Park Board members originally leaned toward a community build, but with the unknown numbers related to the community build, they opted for the professional build and approved the school's contribution of $45,000 toward the project. They also discussed having the community work on the deconstruction of the current playground, reducing the overall cost by $12,000. The hope is to have playground up by the Fourth of July.

Boggs asked the board to move the date of the next meeting to Tuesday, May 13, barring any unforeseen circumstances as the elementary school choir performs on Thursday, May 15.

The board voted to authorize membership of the school to the Minnesota State High School League.

Boggs reminded the board of the awards banquet scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 27, at 6 p.m. The speaker this year will be Lanesboro alumnus Lynn Graner.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Boggs announced the acceptance of his son into the Naval Academy. He sang the praises of this year's class. Even though their number is only 18 students, they are a tight-knit, great group of smart kids and their achievements are truly impressive. Commencement will be June 1 at 1:30 p.m. at the school.