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A hopeful R-P hosts Senate Tour

Thu, Dec 22nd, 2011
Posted in Education

Aimed at furthering its New School Initiative another step, R-P played host to a contingent of the Minnesota Senate Capital Investment Committee December 15. Senators David Senjem, committee chair, Keith Langseth, Dan Sparks, Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, and Jeremy Miller, as well as Representative Greg Davids, toured the elementary/high school facility with district staff, board members Daniel Munson, John Nitecki, Beth Stanford, and six student ambassadors.

"The tour went as well as could be expected, as we were pressed for time," noted Superintendent Chuck Ehler. "I'm grateful to be a part of the tour, but in my frank opinion as to how it will impact our goal, I'm not too sure."

The district had missed the cut on a previous senate bonding tour, despite repeated pressure on the state regarding the need for a new school facility. Citing aging facilities that do not meet Accessible Design Apply per Americans with Disabilities Act standards, structural and environmental issues, excessive heating and maintenance costs, lack of space, and the lack of property valuation to support the cost incurred in building a new facility, the district's request is currently second on the agency's priority ranking.

R-P hopes to secure a Cooperative Facilities Grant for up to $20 million to partially fund a new Pre-K through grade 12 facility. A referendum in the amount of $8.9 million is expected to be put forth by the district to voters in 2012, if the legislature approves the grant funding.

Senator Miller also participated in a luncheon, targeting the New School Initiative, with district staff and board members Kathie Ingram, Roger Metz, and John Nitecki December 13. "It was a good meeting" said Ehler. "Senator Miller understands his role in presenting our story and the bill in the senate."

The district will continue working with ICS Consulting to develop the project and engage the community, architectural firm ATS&R to create preliminary plans, and RCS Consultant Peg Larson to assist with lobbying the legislature for funding.

In related news, the district has been notified that it is the recipient of a grant, in the amount of $6,995, to assist with a National Register evaluation, by the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation. The evaluation will support the repurposing of the historic 1906 and 1936 facilities.

The district continues its work with reducing the special education referral or assignment through its Alternative Delivery Special Instruction Services (ADSIS) program. Now in its 3rd year, the program, which has had a tremendous impact on students within the district, is expanding to include the middle school. Based on a Response to Intervention model, the program hopes to have 80 percent of participants show some or significant improvement.

The program reinforces core curriculum, includes re-teaching of concepts, pre-teaching of upcoming classroom concepts, and basic skill building. Assessments to monitor progress are given three times annually. There are currently 36 reading and 30 math participants in K-4 Title I, 12 reading and 16 math participants in grades K-2, and 13 reading and 11 math participants in grades 3-5. This year, there were no special education referrals, compared to 13 in 2008-2009 and two during 2009-2010 school year.

• Congratulations to Katie Wolter and Fred Scaife, selected to represent R-P as Triple A Award winners. The award is given to high school seniors who excel in academics, fine arts, and athletics.

•Congratulations to Amy Todd and Shane Jacobson, 2011-2012 ExCel winners. The Excellence in Community, Education, and Leadership award is a unique recognition program designed exclusively for Minnesota high school juniors who are active in school activities, show leadership qualities, and who are model citizens.

The next regularly scheduled school board meeting is Monday, January 23, at 6:00pm, in the high school biology room. The public is encouraged to attend.

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