Keeping college courses close to home

By Katie Friedman, Correspondent:

At their most recent meeting, Monday, June 11, members of the Maple Lake School Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding between Independent School District #881 and the Maple Lake Federation of Teachers to use staff development funding to help teachers become credentialed to teach concurrent collegelevel coursework at Maple Lake High School.

Due to changes in state requirements as of September 1, 2022, only two of the school’s teaching staff will be considered qualified to teach college- level courses. Currently, the school offers 10 courses for 37 college credits through programs with two state colleges. Superintendent Mark Redemske told board members that about half-a-dozen teachers on staff are each currently about 18 credits shy of college-level accreditation – for an average cost of about $21,000. If three students stay to receive college-level instruction on school grounds the effort will have paid for itself, he explained, and that if six students withdraw to attend college classes, next year the school would lose $7,500 in funding for each and be forced to cut one teaching position.

“When you stop and look at all of this, it pays for itself if we keep kids here,” Redemske said.

He went on to share his frustration as students leave Maple Lake’s campus to attend college classes.

“For the life of me, I can’t imagine why any parent allows their kid to go PSEO (postsecondary education option),” he said. “It just makes no sense to me when we offer them here. Your kids are driving on dangerous roads all winter long instead of walking down the hallway to a different classroom. It makes no sense to me, especially when you can walk out of here with 37 credits.”

Under the memorandum, the school district will pay for half of teachers’ necessary credits, using staff development dollars. If a teacher then resigns before teaching college-level courses at Maple Lake, 100 percent of that cost must be repaid to the district, 67 percent for resignation after one year and 33 percent after two years. After three years, the teacher has no debt to the district and the earned credits are applied toward a salary lane change.

“It certainly benefits us,” Redemske said, “and I think it benefits staff members, as well.”

Regarding other matters on the evening’s agenda, the board:

• Approved a recommendation from the Technology Committee to fill requests for the 2018-2019 school year. The Technology Committee accepted staff requests for upgrades and devices to be purchased with about $15,000 from the November 2017 voter-approved technology bond. Redemske said about 20 requests had been submitted, and that after some review, some combining, and assistance from technology coordinator Randy Benoit, the committee was able to cover all at a cost that totaled $1,200 beyond that budget, with the extra dollars to come from a $3,000 fund designated for miscellaneous tech expenses. Future upgrades have been plotted into a 10-year budget, an approach Redemske described as “conservative.”

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