School board OK’s contracts for officials at district office

Math intervention, industrial technology programs presented

Mary Bailey
Staff Writer

Terms and conditions of employment for five high-level district jobs were approved by the Forest Lake School Board on Thursday, Sept. 6.

The salary for Dr. Lloyd Komatsu, assessment and evaluation coordinator, will increase from $96,033 to $98,914 for this school year, with up to $3,500 pay for performance possible.

Communications Coordinator Ross Bennett will see a salary increase from $67,328 to $69,347 with up to $3,200 pay for performance available.

For Family Support Advocate Carolyn Latady the salary increase will be from $67,392 to $69,414, plus up to $3,200 pay for performance.

The special education coordinators’ salary was increased to $69,414 from $67,392.

All these employees also had their term life insurance policies increased from $150,000 to $200,000, paid in full by the school district.

The district also pays the full cost of medical and dental insurance for the employees and their dependents. For Komatsu and Bennett, if they elect single coverage, the cost of the dependent coverage is credited to their health care reimbusement accounts.

All of these employees are eligible to earn sick leave, either 18 or 20 days per year, and can accrue it to a maximum of 100, 280, or 320 days, depending on the employee.

ADSIS

Forest Lake Elementary School Principal Jeff Ion introduced the math component of the Alternative Delivery of Specialized Instructional Services (ADSIS) program.

Funded by the state, ADSIS provides staffing for intervention to help reduce the need for special education services.

Schools must apply every year and must show results, he said.

Last year at Forest Lake Elementary the program was expanded from just reading to reading and math.  Math was approved again this year and was added at Forest View Elementary.

Students scoring below the 25th percentile on the NWEA Measures of Academic Progress receive daily interventions, with three or fewer students in a group, for 20 to 30 minutes. Progress is monitored every two weeks with a one- to two-minute assessment.

First-year results, Ion said, showed a decrease in students scoring below the 35th percentile, from 19 last fall to 9 last spring, and an increase in ADSIS participants scoring proficient on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, from zero to seven out of 18.

Elizabeth Baxter, who does math interventions at Forest Lake Elementary, showed the school board some examples of her work.  Blocks in cubes help students see that 4(4) = 4+4+4+4.  Money can be used with many concepts, such as 6+6 = (5+1) + (5+1).

Baxter said at the end of the year she notices the students using different language to explain their thought processes.  When multiplying 4×6 using groups of six pennies, she hears them ask,  “Why don’t we just put a nickel in there?” When counting the 25 squares to find the area of a 5×5 square, they ask, “Hey—why didn’t I just think of 5×5?”

Industrial technology

Southwest Junior High teacher Phil Sundblad gave a presentation on the industrial technology department.

Sundblad said since the 2011/2012 academic year, all junior high school technology offerings are now electives.

Classes offered in the two junior high schools are IT and design (grades 7 and 8), power and energy (7 and 8), manufacturing engineering (8), metals (9), design architecture and engineering (9), and woods (9).

In the high school, over two dozen courses are offered in seven tracks: auto, power, electronics, metals, drafting, woods, and carpentry.

A chart showed how the junior high courses feed into the high school courses.

Sundblad said IT classes use critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and students show their strengths in these areas by their performance in competitions such as the automotive test on which they took second place last year, plus projects such as the high-mileage car, Fenway fields, high school concession stand, and the home built each year. “Every project here is student-designed,” he said.

Even though students in grades 7 to 9 are no longer required to take a technology class, Sundblad highly recommends it.

“Every junior high student should have at least a semester for a well-rounded education,” he said after the meeting.  “Any one is fine.”

At the high school level, Sundblad added, it is important to start early. He recommends every sophomore choose the track that looks most interesting and take the first course in that track. That way the student can schedule the higher level courses in their junior and senior years.

Gifts

Gifts to the district included almost $6,000 from the Scandia Elementary Enrichment Foundation to buy 15 iPad 2 tablets, $1,000 from an anonymous donor to fund the Wyoming Elementary Lego League club, $1,000 from TEFFLA to buy a SmartBoard for Century Junior High, and $713 from the Scandia/Marine Lions to give dictionaries to the third-graders.

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