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Lanesboro School Board: Parent questions lack of calculus, qualified guidance counselor

Fri, Oct 20th, 2006
Posted in Education

Mimi Abell was at the Lanesboro School Board meeting last Monday evening on behalf of many parents who have children attending the school. Abell has a son who is a junior this year. She explained the two major concerns she has to the board members. Her first concern is that Lanesboro High School does not offer a calculus or pre-calculus class. According to Abell, Mabel-Canton, Fillmore Central and Houston Schools all offer a pre-calculus elective for students who wish to take the class.

Abell gave examples of recent graduates, some who are majoring in engineering, who are having difficulty with college level calculus, having had no experience in high school.

"There are some pretty bright kids here," said Abell. She added that for kids going into math, science or engineering, high school experience with calculus will be nearly essential.

Due to the fact that there might not be large numbers of students taking calculus each year, Abell mentioned that it could be offered every other year, or the school could look into an interactive computer based course called an ICN through Minnesota State Southeast Technical. Students could also pursue post-secondary courses at RCTC.

The board members agreed that it would be a valuable class and are going to look into the curriculum to see what can be done to make it possible.

"Anything we can do for math and science would be beneficial, with our proximity to Rochester," said Board Member Dave Lawstuen.

Abell's second and most pressing concern is the lack of a trained qualified Guidance Counselor at the school. Currently, Dean of Students John Smith is taking on many of the guidance duties. One of Abell's concerns was having a specific person to be proactive on the behalf of the students, to talk with them about their career choices and advise them on the classes they need to take.

"I think it is critical to the success of these kids," said Abell. "We need somebody to be more involved directly with them." Abell added that Mabel-Canton and Houston schools both have a full time Guidance Counselor on staff.

Superintendent Jeff Boggs stated that this was something the board members were concerned about as well, and had looked into having Smith get his Masters Degree in guidance counseling.

"We found out that with the guidance program, only one class was about careers," stated Boggs. "Most of it was the psychology and behavior issues."

Boggs explained that to help Smith with his education, he is currently attending workshops and speaking with other counselors. According to Boggs, they are in the "early stages" of planning what can be done for the students.

"Smith is a very good choice," said Boggs. "He's great with the kids, and he has a great rapport with them."

Spanish Trip

Chris Knutson spoke with the board about the Spanish class trip coming up in December. Knutson is an English teacher at Lanesboro and is helping to organize the Spanish trip. The group of 40 students will be leaving on December 26 for Dallas, Texas, and will return on January 2. They will be taking a Hawkeye Stages bus. During the trip they will cross the border into Progreso, Mexico.

According to Knutson, the students are in grades 10, 11 and 12. The trip is offered every other year, and next time it will only be offered to sophomores and juniors, since seniors have the cost of the senior trip. The students must maintain a C level grade in their Spanish class. There will be one more fundraiser, a Mexican supper, on December 12.

Knutson described some of the activities and places the students will see. On New Year's Eve, students will be in San Antonio for a carnival-like party, and there will be fireworks at midnight. The students will get a chance to practice their Spanish in conversation with bartering, and will take a Spanish cooking class and guided tours.

Commonweal Contract

A new contract for the Commonweal Theatre is due, and according to Boggs, the theatre company would like a raise for their services to the school. Boggs explained that about eight years ago they met with the company to discuss ways of using them in the school. Boggs met with Hal Cropp, the Executive Director of the Commonweal, and came up with the idea of teaching a theatre class at the school. The project began five years ago with only eight students signing up. Over the years it has grown and remained steady. Hal Cropp and Lisa Weaver organize the class.

"They do an outstanding job," said Boggs. "They have really done well over the years."

The theatre currently gets $5,000 a year for the class, and has been getting that since they began. Boggs proposed that they receive $5,750 starting next year. He explained that that was a 3 percent raise for the past five years, which would put them where they should be had they been getting raises each year.

Board member Linda Sifford agreed that it was a good idea, since the theatre company puts a lot of time and effort into the teaching, takes the kids to the theatre for plays free of charge, and directs the school play each year.

"It's really a pretty good deal for us," said Boggs.

The motion for the raise did not pass for lack of a second. Board member Steve Snyder stated he would like to see the class and see exactly what they do.

The topic was tabled for 30 days, and will be discussed again at the next board meeting.

Golf Team

Last year Mabel-Canton only sent one girl to Lanesboro to play on the girl's golf team, and this year there won't be any girls from Mabel-Canton. The sports sharing agreement will remain open until next year

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