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R-P recipient of two grants

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Sep 20th, 2013
Posted in Rushford Education

By Kirsten Zoellner

The Rushford-Peterson school year is off to a good start, especially as it received notification of two early education grants. The first, and more sizeable grant, comes to the district from the Minnesota Department of Education. The district’s Lille By Preschool program was recently awarded a 4-Star rating for the Parent Aware program.

Began as a privately funded pilot program to address underprepared student needs, Parent Aware was adopted by the Department of Education and will make ratings available statewide by 2015. It is led by the Department of Human Services and the Minnesota Office of Early Learning. In local communities, Parent Aware is working to share ratings with parents and prepare education programs.

According to the MDE, “All Star-Rated Programs go above and beyond licensing requirements to support school readiness. By voluntarily becoming rated, a program shows it cares enough about early learning to use the best practices and proven approaches. With non-rated programs, even though they may be licensed, parents do not have the same assurances about early education quality.” Quality is measured by physical health, well-being, teaching, and relationships.

4-Star rated programs criteria includes volunteer in-depth training, devotion to strong relationships with each child, adoption of the latest approaches to learning, commitment to daily activities and routines, and a placed focus on health and safety. Once a school has earned a 4-star rating, it is eligible for scholarships to put further practices into motion. The district received word on September 13 that it had garnered approval of a $25,000 scholarship through the Pathways to Success program.

“We’re excited to be able to continue,” noted an enthused community education director Lisa Lawston. “It’s a nice addition for our students, as well as those families who might need child care.”

The district has also received notification of a $6,000 grant from Rushford Community Foundation and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF). This grant seeks to expand elementary playground equipment to include more ADA (American with Disabilities Act) accessible options for students with disabilities. Superintendent Chuck Ehler and elementary physical education teacher Teresa Brown will be finalizing the details of ordering and installing the equipment.

In other news, the district has adopted public forum guidelines after a recommendation from legal counsel. Recent public comment at school board meetings has not always been directed at items on the agenda or at the board as a whole. Instead, recent instances have included varying topics and direct comments at specific board directors.

“This comes straight from our lawyer,” noted Superintendent Chuck Ehler. “Our goal is to help the public understand the protocol when addressing the board.”

The updated guidelines are available on the school’s website.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is Monday, October 21, at 5:30 p.m., in the Rushford-Peterson Middle School Library in Peterson, Minn. Please note the location change. The public is encouraged to attend. A board walk through of the middle school building will follow the meeting.

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