First Lego League coach Stuart Weist was present at the November 27 school board meeting along with the league’s student members. The Lego League is a STEM program and consists of 10 students from 4th-8th grade who must work together to build a robot based on a theme chosen by the international First Lego League organization. This year’s theme is Into Orbit, and the Fillmore Central team, Team Trial and Error, decided to address the issues with growing food in space by designing a collapsible accordian-style greenhouse that could be attached to the outside of a space ship. On December 8, the team will be competing in Rochester at the regional competition with the possibility of moving up to state and beyond if they place high enough. One of the requirements for the team is to present their concept and research to a group before the competition and so they asked permission to give their presentation at the school board meeting.
During his introduction of the presentation to the board, Weist informed them that 13 Fillmore Central students registered for Lego League this year, but three had to be turned away as Lego Corporate has mandated that teams are allowed to have a maximum of 10 members. He noted that other schools who experience that issue create multiple teams to allow more students to participate, but that would incur higher costs and require additional coaches. As the program is only in its second year at Fillmore Central, it has been a learning curve and has run into some issues that Weist hoped would be addressed in the near future. Tonya Keim, mother of one of the team members, pointed out that last year, the team did not receive the special competition board until just two days before competing so did not have the chance to practice on it at all. Because of that, they came in last place, but were awarded the coaches’ award for showing up ready to compete despite being at such a disadvantage. Keim was impressed at how the Lego League taught teamwork and encouraged the students to work hard together.
During their presentation, the Lego League team members took turns speaking before the board and explaining different aspects of their project. When they were finished, the board members were encouraged to ask questions and give feedback. Some of the questions they asked included what size the greenhouse would be, what the team’s biggest challenge in designing it had been, where the food would be stored, etc. The board thanked the team for presenting their project, complimented them on a good job, and wished them luck at the upcoming competition.
Principal Heath Olstad informed the board that ALICE training was held at the high school on November 9 and that two deputies from the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department were able to assist with it. The training teaches staff how to deal with active shooter situations while protecting their students. “It was definitely an eye-opening experience,” Olstad said. “We feel it’s the right step for our school district.” Due to scheduling conflicts, he is still working to find a date to hold the training at the elementary school as well.
A Veterans Day Program was held at the Preston location on November 12. Thanks were extended to Ron Scheevel for emceeing the event, music teacher Matthew Patterson and the 4th-6th grade singers, and to the sixth grade readers, Ava Fommelt, Myleigh Scheevel, Annika Mensink, Joey Ristau, Cowan Keim, and Aaliyah Root as well as to the servicemen and women who have served in the armed forces.
$10,987.99 was raised by the 5th-8th grade students’ One & Done fundraiser. The money will go to help fund field trips and other programs at the school.
Congratulations were extended to Audra Otto who came in first in the spelling bee on November 13, Maddox Wolfgram, who came in second, and Zachary Krage, who came in third. Audra and Maddox will go on to represent Fillmore Central in the Regional Spelling Bee in Rochester.
The parent/teacher conferences were held on November 8 and were well attended with 96.2% of parents showing up.
Because of the recent Scholastic Book Fair, 200 new books will be purchased for the elementary library. Thanks were extended to the many volunteers who helped run the fair.
Jason Hovey was approved as the volunteer coach with the wrestling program. Sashia Sharpton was hired as an aide in the daycare’s toddler room, and Stacey Miller was hired as a van driver and custodial/IT employee.
The board reviewed and approved the World’s Best Workforce annual review, which will be submitted to the state. The plan includes five goals that the school district must work to achieve. The first goal is to have 90% of all students ready for kindergarten and that goal was met with 97.9%. The second goal was for 80% of all third grade students to achieve grade level literacy. The district did not meet that goal with only 50% of third graders demonstrating grade level literacy. “You’re taking a one-day snapshot of kids who were in school that day and how they tested on that assessment,” Superintendent Richard Keith pointed out. The third goal of a 5% or less achievement gap was not reached either with a 17.4% gap measured. To help the district reach those goals in the future, the Action 100 program was started during the last school year and this year, Action 100 coaches were added to help teachers be sure that they are utilizing all the resources available to them within the program. A third kindergarten teacher was hired to lower class sizes, and an additional special education teacher and Title I teacher were hired.
The fourth goal was to have students career and college ready by graduation. The state uses an eighth grade math test to determine the students’ readiness. The goal was to have 65% of students proficient on the test, and Fillmore Central students were measured at 42.1%. To increase that number, math tutors are available and an additional special education teacher was hired for the high school. The fifth goal was that 90% of all students graduate from high school. Fillmore Central achieved that goal with 95.9% of seniors graduating. The school’s alternative learning program is credited with that high number.
School board members Craig Britton, Ross Kiehne, Deb Ristau, and Jim Love will be attending the Minnesota School Board Association’s Leadership Conference in January.
A $2,500,000 fund balance was assigned to roof repairs, $500,000 to technology, $100,000 to transportation, $700,000 to building maintenance and improvement, and $200,000 to parking lot costs.
A public forum for the annual Truth in Taxation meeting will be held on December 18 at 6:01 p.m. in Harmony with the regular school board meeting immediately following.