Curriculum and facility updates on school board agenda

At the regular school board meeting on Monday, August 22, the board heard from District Curriculum Coordinator Jean Elsenpeter about curriculum updates and Superintendent Mark Redemske provided facility project updates in preparation for the start of the new school year.

Elsenpeter updated the board on the curriculum review process, presenting the curriculum development and review plan. The plan outlines the rotation and process in which curriculums are updated. She also addressed the need for a curriculum committee. The committee would continually oversee and regulate the curriculum review process, as well as provide a means of communication between teachers, faculty and parents.

“I would like to see a curriculum committee started,” said Elsenpeter “to enhance communication, especially between high school and elementary teachers.

“The committee would be responsible for suggesting corrections, textbook adoption and assisting in the writing process.”

Several board members expressed an interest in the committee and Elementary Principal Kris Harlan noted the additional benefit of opening communication lines between schools and parents.

“The committee would be an avenue for parents to voice their concerns as well,” said Harlan.

Elsenpeter finished by saying that she would research curriculum committees already in place in other area school districts and create a plan to present to the board at a later date.

After a recent building and grounds committee meeting, several issues were presented to the board and future plans were discussed.

Redemske said that various summer projects are already completed or will be very soon, including the new fire alarm system.

The previous system operated on two panels, one in the high school and one in the elementary, allowing each alarm to sound without the other being activated.

Redemske expressed his concern about the issue and said that a new system was installed, sounding all horns if an emergency was reported in any part of the building.

The board approved Simplex to monitor the new fire alarm system at a cost of $384 per year for five years.

Redemske also presented information about reduced-price software, available through IEA, that would keep the district on a maintenance program and eliminate the paperwork now associated with building repairs and projects.

Board members were impressed with the program and suggested looking further into the operating system.

“I think we need something like that,” said board member Dave Gohman. “But it’s only going to be as good as the people that use it.”

Board member Arnie Michalicek said that he would like to see a plan set up, outlining who would be responsible for updating and overseeing the program on a daily basis, before any further decisions were made. The issue was put on the agenda for further discussion at the next regular meeting.

In other business the board:

* Discussed parking lot maintenance projects, including re-striping and bus accommodations, as well as safety concerns within the parking lots.

Board member Ernie Puncochar expressed his concern about drivers speeding through the north and northeast parking lots, near the Kidville entrances.

The board authorized the investigation of cost and maintenance on various types of speed bumps to be placed in the back parking lots.

Solutions on the separation of bus traffic from vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the south parking lot, off State Highway 55, was discussed but tabled until further information is collected.

Further discussions on all other parking lot maintenance and safety issues will be held at future meetings.

* Enrollment updates were presented, showing an increase of over 25 students from the start of last school year.

“The seesaw continues,” said Redemske. “But if you look at the trend over time, enrollment is steadily increasing. We’re at 952 students, which is definitely an increase from last year.”

* Looking into the new school year, the board also discussed the impact of gasoline prices on the drivers education program.      The board approved an increase in the drivers education fee of $40 to $220 for the increase in gasoline prices and operational fees for both classroom time and behind-the-wheel.

*Within the consent agenda the board:

-Accepted the resignation of Janel Rosine as a cook, effective immediately.

-Approved a half-time teaching contract with Karla Mavencamp as a special education instructor.

-Approved a teaching contract with Joy Torgerson as an elementary school instructor.

* District 881 is proud of:

-The custodial staff for their extra hard work in preparing the grounds and facilities for the new school year.

-The Chamber of Commerce and all other volunteers for the success of the Days of Old festival.

-All of the teachers who helped on the interview teams for their time dedicated to the selection of new staff members.

*The next regular school board meeting is set for Monday, September 12, at 7:00 p.m.  School board members present included Ernie Puncochar, Dave Gohman, Greg Mooney, Arnie Michalicek, Chris Dombrovski and Connie Munstenteiger. Kitty Rasset was absent. Others present were Superintendent Mark Redemske and Elementary Principal Kris Harlan. Visitors present were Jean Elsenpeter, District Curriculum Coordinator and Dennis Klug.