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R-P will not apply for Flexible Learning Year

Fri, Mar 4th, 2011
Posted in Education

The R-P school board has decided not move forward with an application to the Minnesota Department of Education. The move could have started the 2011-2012 school year approximately two weeks prior to Labor Day. The district initially felt that the change may maximize both teacher development and student instruction prior to statewide assessments. However, there were concerns from the community about the change including the effect of August heat on the aging Rushford facility, students, and staff. In addition, the early start would have hindered students participating in 4-H and FFA at the state fair as well as those taking family vacations at the end of the summer.

Survey results within the district, which totaled a meager 130 responses, indicated that the community was not fully behind the measure. Three public forums were held, also with lackluster attendance, with a total of 18 persons attending. Reponses from both the survey and forum varied, but in the end, 55 percent of the total responders were not in favor of the early start.

"I appreciate the feedback that I have received from parents and community members in regard to this initiative," noted Ehler.

R-P will be moving forward with collaboration between local districts. A joint superintendents' meeting including representation from Houston, Lanesboro, and Lewiston-Altura was held in late February and a second meeting is expected. The effort aims to discuss the possibility of a common school calendar for the four districts and collaboration for staff development activities.

The aging Rushford facility has been a topic in other recent events as well. Recent snow fall and ice jams have contributed to a number of leaks on the north side of the 1906-portion of the high school roof. The district has consulted with a roofing firm and will be addressing the issue as the weather becomes more suitable.

Meanwhile, Al Hiniker, a structural engineer from Structural Design Group, has reviewed the 1906-portion of the school to render his opinion regarding the settling and separation of the wood floors on the third floor of the building. He stressed that there are no imminent safety concerns. A cost estimate is expected to be submitted on a more thorough study of the buildings. Hiniker will then develop a plan to address some of the structural concerns.

The district has long been stuck between aging facilities and the funding and community support that would be required for a new facility. The New School Initiative Facilities Task Force has seen 20 attendees at its recent meetings. A fourth meeting was held this past Thursday.

"I am pleased with the committee's willingness and efforts to continue working through the process," said Superintendent Ehler.

A R-P Schools Foundation Committee has also been formed with board members Roger Metz and Greg Smith representing the district. The foundation provides individuals the option of making a philanthropic gift to the district.

In other news, the district has received two grants for the National Archery In Schools Program. The DNR has provided $2,200 and Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (Bluff Country Chapter) has donated $1,000. The money will be used to purchase state-of-the-art archery equipment, including 10 right-handed bow, two left-handed bows, 10 dozen aluminum arrows and five (36") targets. The equipment will supplement the archery unit in physical education.

Congratulations to:

• Emma Malone and Taiya Brown, winners of the district's Poetry Out Loud contest.

• FFA members Ross Anderson, Jordan Bergan, Ben Markegard, and Tyler Johnson for placing 3rd at the National Cattlemen Convention Quiz Bowl in Denver, CO.

• The cast and crew of the R-P One Act Play. The original production of "A Deep Poetic Journey into Something," a Sub-Section and Section champion, was recently presented at state competition and was honored with a standing ovation.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is Monday, March 21, 2011, at 6:00 p.m., in the high school biology room. The public is encouraged to attend.

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