Kingsland Elementary and Middle School Principal Chris Priebe outlines standardized testing scores for the school board members.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Kingsland Elementary and Middle School Principal Chris Priebe outlines standardized testing scores for the school board members. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Kingsland Superintendent John McDonald, outlined to the Kingsland School Board some of the recent highlights for the district, including test scores for high school students and a pilot program for the elementary students, during the Monday, June 17, meeting.

"Because we're certified in engineering and biomedical in Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and this is our first year, at the end of the year, the students took an exam rated for advanced placement, or AP, and it's the same rigor...a difficult test, and it's scored from one to nine," McDonald told the board, "and it can qualify students for college credit at the University of Minnesota or other Minnesota state schools. A school has to have a certain percentage of students who passed in a classroom, and we have 19 ninth grade students who earned college credit at the University of Minnesota. Students need to earn a four or higher to qualify, and we had some students scoring a six or a seven."

He continued, "We had 40 students - 21 in ninth grade - who earned college credit, and the Project Lead the Way credit can transfer into any state school or the University of Minnesota. Students don't perform this well unless they have teachers in the classroom who are teaching them well. I'd like to congratulate the students and tell the staff 'great job' for making this successful. A lot of people might ask, 'Where's the proof?' when we tell them we've got a good science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education here. I think this speaks for our success."

Additionally, McDonald was pleased to announce that Kingsland has been chosen as a pilot site for elementary PLTW curriculum that will not be available to other school districts until 2015. Kindergartners through fifth graders will now participate in PLTW programming that will introduce them to STEM education at an earlier stage than waiting until junior high. McDonald commented, "It's really very exciting to add this to our STEM education. There are a few schools in each state that were chosen to be pilot schools, and our school was one of three. We'll be a premier STEM school, and a number of schools will look to us for how STEM education is done."

In other business at the meeting, athletic director Tom Speltz rounded up the 2012-2013 school year sports, noting that 69 students participated in spring sports.

"It's hard to sugar coat it, but only 25 percent of the students participated in spring sports," he told the board. "I do talk with the coaches at the end of the season and try to figure out how to improve the numbers. My goal is to do better than 25 percent - my goal is to have 50 percent. I did broach the subject of looking at cooperative track and field and golf, especially girls' golf, because we really deprive them of the chance to go to state because they don't have a team. There was one girl who was within three or four strokes going to state, but she didn't have a team. We want our kids to participate - that's one of my goals. Kids who participate in team sports have fewer discipline problems, better sportsmanship, better preparedness for life."

Kingsland's first football game of the 2013-14 school year is slated for Aug. 23 against Wabasha-Kellogg. Additionally, the fall sports cookout, season kickoff and PAC meeting will be held during the summer, on Monday, July 29.

Kingsland High School Principal James Hecimovich updated the board on changes being made to the high school student handbook, including changes to the academic ineligibility program.

Also, he pointed out the successful AP test scores and that PLTW teachers Andrew Brouwer and Brad Reiter are attending further training. "The kids achieved college credit at the University of Minnesota, and that says a lot about the teachers and students," he added.

For students who are trying to stay at grade level, high school guidance counselor Bruce Rohne has been meeting with parents to discuss what remediation is necessary. "We're trying to be proactive so these students can graduate on time," said Hecimovich.

He added that he and the staff are still exploring the VBRICK software that allows for interactive televised education, such as when Kingsland ag instructor Kristal Brogan takes a planned FFA trip and is able to leave a video lesson for the substitute to play for students. "We'll be able to do a lot with VBRICK, even beyond using it for lessons, like if I want to post a message on the school website for parents."

Kingsland Elementary School Principal Chris Priebe spoke on the new language arts curriculum that will be available for students through classroom iPads, relating that while the curriculum has arrived, teacher access to the accompanying website is not yet available.

Priebe also asked that the board follow through and hire a third kindergarten teacher, as proposed on the agenda, as the current student count is nearing 51, and "as the numbers have grown, there have been three sections in each grade...when I was teaching, my students often confused 51 as a prime number, but it's not since it's divisible by three, so that would place 17 students in each class, which is just about right." The board did approve hiring a teacher for a third section of kindergarten.

In his report, McDonald congratulated the Kingsland Class of 2013, and thanked the board for taking time to make the graduation ceremony memorable.

The board then thanked the Spring Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars for a $500 donation toward the First Robotics team's competition, Troy and Kathy (Beevers) Miller for a $250 donation toward the staff appreciation luncheon and the Spring Valley American Legion for a $500 scholarship and another $500 toward the First Robotics program. The board expressed its appreciation to Essig Agency, Fowler Oil, Security State Bank and Valley Home Improvement for their respective $2,000 donations for scoreboards.

In personnel matters, the board hired fall coaching staff, Megan Newbold as a first grade teacher and head dance coach, Samantha Van Gorp as early childhood special education teacher, Kelsey Frank as a kindergarten teacher and B squad volleyball coach, Jackie Whitacre as head volleyball coach, and Kathy Bly and Jill Thalmann for the SACC program.

The board also accepted the resignation of Andrew Peterson as physical education instructor and football and basketball coach, approved an extended probation period for science teacher Brent Stinson, and denied a leave of absence for Elliott Grandall through a 5-1 vote, with Gwen Howard opposed. Board member Kristin Beck stated, "I feel it's not in the best interest of our students."

The board rounded out personnel business by granting tenure to five staff members - Jennifer Campbell, Niki DeBuhr, Andrew Brouwer, Linda Wangsness and Christopher Priebe. McDonald stated, "We would like to recognize publicly that they've done a good job, and we recommend them for tenure."

Lastly, business manager Todd Netzke outlined revenues and expenses and shared the preliminary 2014 budget, citing that the district's finances are "strong."

The next regular meeting of the Kingsland School Board of Directors is slated for Monday, July 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the Kingsland High School conference room. The public is welcome to attend. For more information, call 346-7276, or log onto the Kingsland website at www.kingsland.k12.mn.us.