Peer Learning Centers get positive reviews
By Emily Bialkowski
In addition to approving the winter sports coaching contracts – see chart for details – the Caledonia School Board received an update from one of the high school Professional Learning Community groups, who reported finding great value in meeting each Wednesday morning.
The district instituted late start Wednesdays this school year so teachers may have a dedicated hour each week to coordinate their efforts and set goals to improve student achievement.
Zoe Lamm, middle school/high school science and math teacher, said teachers are appreciative of the district dedicating time for this type of development.
“It’s really been very valuable to us so far. We’re very focused on creating goals and linking together. We’re noticing connections and linking the knowledge from class to class,” Lamm said.
For example, one high school PLC is focused on ways to improve critical thinking in students.
Board Member Jean Meyer asked if it’s been a successful effort.
“It’s been very successful, and it’s been very valuable time,” Lamm said.
Middle school/high school math teacher Cathy Klug said, “It feels like a business meeting. Our business is the business of educating our children. It’s been very productive, and that’s what it feels like to me – we’re down to business.”
Meyer asked how the groups keep track of what is talked about. The teachers said they take minutes and post upcoming agendas on the district’s information sharing site, Schoology.
The overall conversation was positive, with teachers expressing enthusiasm for the time to collaborate.
The board updated several policies on the evening, as is typical of each meeting, but not before a bit of discussion on Student Dress and Appearance Policy 504.
Educational assistant Jean Klinski said she was concerned the language in the policy was too vague. She asked, “How long are ‘short shorts’,” and “What constitutes a ‘skimpy’ top?”
“I would like more detail,” Klinski said.
Superintendent Ben Barton said prescriptive language should go in each building’s handbook and should be discussed at the building level. He said the policies presented are recommended by the Minnesota School Board Association, are broad in nature and have been reviewed by legal council.
“I applaud you for bringing it up. If you see someone improperly dressed, bring it to the school supervisor’s attention,” Board Member Kelley McGraw said.
The policy was approved as presented.
In response to complaints from last school year and this school year, Barton asked that substitute teacher pay be put on the agenda for discussion.
He said he has been told the pay – $90 for a full day licensed substitute, $50 for a half day – is too low.
“When we compare ourselves to like-sized districts, we are glaringly low,” Barton said. “I have been getting comments that it’s tough to come when they can go to other districts and get more.”
Barton said $100 a day might put Caledonia in the middle of the pack, but Board Member Spencer Yohe said he gets as much as $122 a day in La Crosse.
McGraw wanted to know how many substitute days the district pays for in a year, but that number was not readily available.
The board asked Barton to collect concrete numbers and bring a recommendation to the next board meeting.
Several other items were approved during the meeting, including:
• The board approved hiring Angie Morkan as the full-time middle school/high school administrative assistant.
• The board approved a memorandum of understanding with the support professional union that allows the lead custodians to receive an extra stipend of $3,500 for their leadership.
• The board approved designating Bill Woolley as the lead elementary custodian and Randy Dehli as the lead middle school/high school custodian.
• The board rescinded a motion from Sept. 23 that named Jim Schoh the assistant boys soccer coach and instead approved splitting the assistant soccer coaches duties – and salary – between Schoh and James Larson.
• The board approved the annual Report on Curriculum, Instruction and Student Achievement, which is available in full on the district’s website at www.cps.k12.mn.us under the “District” tab.
• The board approved a resolution supporting the district’s grant request from Minnesota State High School League Foundation for money to offset student activity fees.
As is tradition at each School Board meeting, groups and/or individuals are extended a thank you for supporting the Caledonia School District.
Words of appreciation were extended to Sue Link, Tory-Kale Schulz and Barb Rollins for their leadership in bringing 50 students to the We Day event and supporting the core value of service in the school district.
Finally, the board voted to go into closed session to discuss its negotiation strategy. No decisions were made upon returning into open session.
The next regular School Board meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18.
Winter 2013-14 Coaching Contracts
Daniel Goergen, head coach, at $3,542
Houston School District hires and pays for the assistant coach
Roger Holland, junior high coach, at $1,834
Jeff Winjum, junior high coach, at $1,834
Josh Diersen, head coach, at $3,712
Jeremy Leis, assistant coach, at $2,643
Brad King, 9th grade coach, at $1,834
Dan Reinhart, 8th grade coach, at $2,002
7th grade coaching position open at this time
Kevin Klug, head coach, at $3,712
Carl Fruechte, assistant coach, at $2,643
Scott Sorenson, 9th grade coach, at $2,002
Mitch Mullins, 8th grade coach, at $2,002
Brandon Meiners, 7th grade coach, at $1,665
Jackie Johnson, head coach, at $3,712
Danielle Sauer, assistant coach, at $2,474