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Fillmore Central seeks to improve math scores

Thu, Dec 23rd, 2010
Posted in Education

Fillmore Central Superintendent Myrna Luehmann gave the school board a presentation giving them more information about the Flexible Learning Year program.

Several schools in southwest Minnesota have combined to make a consortium, and applied to have school start two weeks earlier. There are now many districts in southeast Minnesota that are interested in doing the same thing. There are many reasons for doing this, and Luehmann explained some of them.

If Fillmore Central applies to be a part of this consortium, they will have to do so by February 15. Luehmann explained it is a three-year term they would be signing up for, and would start in 2011. In order to apply for the consortium, the school must hold three public meetings.

With the new schedule, the first semester would end before winter break, and the year would end approximately two weeks earlier. The schools that combine would have shared professional development days, which could save the districts money. Each school must pay into a pool $10 per student for each of the three years, and this money would be used for those professional developments.

Luehmann said they cannot reduce the number of student contact days. This schedule would be aligned with local colleges, as well as the other districts.

Along with cost efficiency or the trainings, the schools that collaborate could use certain technologies together. Luehmann explained that kids learn differently today than many years ago; they need a higher level of critical thinking. Schools today are working on getting kids ready for college and helping them through college, in what Luehmann referred to as "K-16" instead of K-12.

The board agreed they are interested in pursuing this. Board member Deb Ristau wanted to make sure all of the staff members are on board with the idea. Principal Heath Olstad said he will be meeting with staff as soon as winter break is over. They will then set up the three meetings that need to be held. They have no obligation until they make a commitment in February.

High School Math Study

During his Principal's Report, Heath Olstad informed the board of a pilot program that will be taking place for juniors. Olstad said the program would be to help the students in eleventh grade be more successful with their standardized math tests in the spring.

"We need to improve the overall math scores," said Olstad. "That's the bottom line."

Olstad explained that during third hour the kids who are not in band or choir have a 45-minute study hall. This program would set aside a half-hour chunk of time to be spent working on math skills. The two math teachers, Becky Mueller and Jane Montgomery, would be working with the kids, who would be split into four groups. Two days a week, the students would be working using the Study Island computer program. They would be given assignments to complete at home or the other days.

The two math teachers would be working a half-overload, and they have agreed to this. Olstad estimated the cost to be around $1,000 per teacher, and the board approved.

Olstad said they could consider giving the students a half-credit at some point, but right now they are going to try it out and see if it helps improve scores. Juniors who do not do well can continue this their senior year if needed.


The board approved hiring Sue Snell as a long-term sub for Janette Burns's maternity leave. Lisa Wilhelm was also hired to tutor a home-bound student for a short time.

The resignation of Deb Schott, part-time custodian, was approved. The board also approved the hire of Kevin Hendrickson to replace Schott.

The board also approved the resignation of Superintendent Myrna Luehmann, who will be retiring as of June 30, 2011. Chair person Ross Kiehne thanked Luehmann for her years of service to the district.

Kiehne recognized Sue Ostrom for her five years on the school board and presented her with a plaque. A plaque was also given to Jill Zmyewski, the FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences) teacher at the high school for being with the district for 16 and a half years. Luehmann also mentioned that Zmyewski is the one who makes the blankets for new babies born in the district that read, "Future Falcon."

Zmyewski thanked the board and administration for the opportunity to teach at this school, saying she loved every minute of it. "We are blessed to have such a wonderful staff and administration," she said. She also thanked them for supporting her program, which she thinks is very important for the students.

The Superintendent Search Committee met recently to discuss the current configuration and how they want things to be next year with a new superintendent. Board member Sue Sikkink said they are pleased with the way things are working now and would like to keep it that way. They will be looking for a part-time superintendent to start on July 1.

Chair person Ross Kiehne said he met with other board members from area districts, and none of them showed any interest in sharing superintendents. The ones who were there were happy with the way things are for now.

The committee will move forward with its search and have something ready by the next meeting to present to the board.

Other Business

The levy was approved at a 3.24 percent increase over last year, and was set for $1,536,117.13.

There were no community members present for the Truth in Taxation hearing.

The board approved hiring a new collection agency for Community Ed. in order to have better results getting money that is due.

The board also approved getting bids for the district insurance plan.

An open enrollment request was approved for a student in eighth grade who lives in Canton.

The board accepted the low bid from Smith Schafer for the district audit for the next two years.

The January school board meeting will also be the organizational meeting. It will be on January 25 at 8 p.m. in the high school media center.

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