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Fillmore Central not joining Flexible Learning Consortium


Fri, Mar 25th, 2011
Posted in Education

The Fillmore Central School board has voted against joining the Flexible Learning Year Consortium. Many other schools who were originally interested in the idea have now chosen not to join.

Superintendent Myrna Luehmann said Fillmore Central was one of the last three schools to make a decision. Winona, St. Charles, and Kingsland recently turned it down.

"We no longer have the professional development piece to make that strong, because we can do that anyway," said Luehmann. "We didn't feel the application would be successful without that."

Luehmann explained there are several school districts interested in starting a Professional Development Consortium. The districts will pool together $7.50 per child per year instead of the $10 that was proposed with the Flexible Learning Year. These pooled funds will help pay for staff development, and the districts will collaborate with each other. There will be no application to the state, just a group of schools working together.

Many board members agreed the staff development was the most appealing part of the Flexible Learning Year. Board member John Torgrimson said he would like to see more details on the new consortium. Luehmann will be attending a meeting on the new consortium on March 28. The board expressed interest in joining. They need to show intent to join by April 8.

Southeast Service Cooperative

Using Interactive Television (ITV) technology that is fairly new to Fillmore Central, Suzanne Riley of the Southeast Service Co-op was able to join the meeting and discuss how the district has used its services over the last year.

Riley thanked the board for allowing her to join the meeting this way, as it is much more cost-effective. She explained some of the materials she had sent to the board members, including two reports. The first report was a summary of the youth services in the school's years 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. She stated she had tracked how Fillmore Central used their services compared to other districts, and how those services translate into benefits for the district. She had given the board members a list of all services tracked and the resulting value to the district, and compared the information with other districts.

"Fillmore Central really makes good use of the Southeast Service Co-op," said Riley. "You guys use a wide variety of services, instructional support, and administrative support."

Instructional support, which includes the mobile science lab, the spelling bee, Knowledge Bowl, Young Authors/Young Artists Conference, and wellness mini-grants, are being well-used by the district. Riley also mentioned the reduced rate on employee VEBA and flex fees. The total value of these services after membership fees was $67,000.

"You've come out ahead," said Riley. "You've used more help than you have given to the pool."

Luehmann explained there have been years when Fillmore Central isn't making as much use of it as they used to when the school was not making AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress). Riley said that is normal with districts.

In regards to the upcoming Professional Development Consortium, Riley said the Co-op will be sending out two surveys for districts to fill out and return regarding their development needs.

"There is still something to gain by collaborating with other districts," said Riley. "We will be using technology as much as possible, such as ITV, Skype, and other things."

Riley said there will be training in the Twin Cities area on July 3 to kick it off.

Administrative Budget

Luehmann spoke to the board about some ways the administration is looking at saving money for the next year. One thing she mentioned is looking at not hiring another full-time person to teach the FACS classes. She said they can cover a couple of those classes with staff that can work with a variance and still meet the needs of the students.

They are also looking at other ways to cut costs for the budget. Luehmann said the referendum will be kicking in next fall, which will give an increase of about $70,000. She added they will not have $90,000 in ERA money next year. She said they still have to look at teacher salaries, and they are looking at options for cutting costs in transportation.

Luehmann said the House and Senate budget proposals were kind to the schools in that they did not cut anything. They will not, however, be receiving any increases. She added they will have a better idea of where things are headed in the next couple of weeks.

Principal Heath Olstad mentioned a few options they are looking at for the high school. He said the choir director, Sara Holten, may be teaching a music course that is not a concert choir, as an elective. He also mentioned the possibility of only offering some classes once a year instead of twice to cut costs.

"I think we can work hard on that and keep trimming it tight, but I don't know where else we are going to tighten it up," said Olstad. He said they are still trying to make sure they have strong offerings for their students.

Athletics

Athletic Director Jane Montgomery spoke to the board about next year's girls' basketball season. Most of the varsity team will consist of ninth graders, as there will only be one junior and one senior. Montgomery was concerned with the girls playing in the Three Rivers conference, and had asked Spring Grove if they could switch conferences for a couple of years. Montgomery explained Spring Grove easily wins every game they play in their conference, and felt our conference might be more of a challenge for them. However, Spring Grove turned down the idea.

Montgomery's next idea is to combine with Lanesboro for the varsity team only. She would like to keep the lower grades Fillmore Central, but she would like to have somewhere to send the two or three older girls who want to play. She doesn't feel it would do them any good to play in a tough conference when the team is so young.

"I feel throwing those young girls into that would be brutal," said Montgomery. She added, "If this plan falls through, next year the team will be one sophomore, one junior, one senior, with the rest freshmen." "It could be so hard on them mentally that we could ruin our program for many future years."

Lanesboro would be the host school for the varsity girls. Montgomery said the Lanesboro girls would like to have the Fillmore Central girls, and vice versa.

The only problem Montgomery could see with it is moving up one class, to AA for the tournaments. She added that she was still open to other suggestions. Board member Deb Ristau commended Montgomery for her work and time put into this, and for thinking outside the box.

Montgomery also spoke about the need for another softball coach. Head coach Tris Tollefson was at the meeting, and he confirmed there are now 43 girls signed up. They are two weeks into the season, and a few more people have decided to join.

The numbers include Lanesboro girls, and there are about 20 in grades 9-12, and 24 in junior high. Montgomery added there was no B-squad last year, so she is happy with these numbers. She would like to hire another junior high coach.

"We could really use someone," said Tollefson. "A lot of them are out for softball for the first time, and it takes a lot of time. It's a real tough job for one person to handle that many people."

Montgomery has someone in mind, and she has talked to this person. The total cost for the coach is $2,500, but Montgomery said it could be pro-rated since the season started two weeks ago. The board approved the hire at a pro-rated cost.

Other Business

The board approved the field service agreement with Luther College for student teachers.

A bid from R&L Landscaping was approved for mowing lawn at the Harmony and Preston sites.

A resignation was accepted from first grade teacher Emily Erickson.

Luehmann said they will be adding a second room at the daycare for kids aged 3-5 due to high numbers of requests for spaces.

Applications have been received for the superintendent position. The closing date is April 8, after which interviews will be conducted.

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