Many positive updates at school board meeting

FLHS junior Grant Taylor appeared before the Forest Lake Area School Board with boys swim coach Barbara Vailodash. Taylor placed 26th in the state diving competition.

FLHS junior Grant Taylor appeared before the Forest Lake Area School Board with boys swim coach Barbara Vailodash. Taylor placed 26th in the state diving competition.

Winter sports successes, academic advances and good news for the facilities bond proposal were on the agenda at the Forest Lake Area School Board meeting March 6.

Activities Director Joel Olson introduced coaches and members of swimming, gymnastics, dance and Alpine ski teams.

Boys swim coach Barbara Vailodash appeared with diver Grant Taylor, a junior who qualifed for state in his first year on the team.

Dance team coach Cheryl Smoczyk joked, “We work really hard for three minutes and 19 seconds.”

“It’s 80 percent a mental game, and they 100 percent had their heads together,” boys Alpine ski coach Grant Lindemer said.

Program coordinator Gerry Seaburg and Principal Julie Greiman of Scandia Elementary told the School Board about Scandia’s progress in becoming an International Baccalaureate primary school.

Program coordinator Gerry Seaburg and Principal Julie Greiman of Scandia Elementary told the School Board about Scandia’s progress in becoming an International Baccalaureate primary school.

Scandia Elementary Principal Julie Greiman updated the board on that school’s progress toward becoming an International Baccalaureate school.

Scandia is in the third and final year of candidate school status and expects to achieve verification in 2014. It will be the 23rd Minnesota school in the primary years program.

The program has an international emphasis, including learning another language. Scandia students in kindergarten through third grade started learning Mandarin Chinese in the fall of 2013. The instruction began with oral interaction, and now the students are learning to write Chinese characters.

“They’re like sponges at that age,” Greiman said.

Other IB emphases are integrating subjects,  instead of treating them as separate, and using individual and collaborative work to find answers to questions.

Program Coordinator Gerry Seaburg said the school spends a lot of time talking about the IB learner profile, 10 traits that students strive to be: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective.

“Teachers have worked so hard this year creating this. It’s been fabulous,” she said.

Greiman said IB was a big change for Scandia teachers, “but now they’re coming to enjoy it. It has been a very good thing for Scandia.”

Parents report that their children come home with big ideas and new vocabulary, she said, and at least one new family is considering sending their children to Scandia.

The School Board voted to approve the IB authorization request for Scandia in a unanimous vote, with Member Kathy Bystrom absent.

The $176 million facilities bond that will come before the voters in a special election on May 20 received a positive review and comment from the Minnesota Department of Education, a necessary step in proceeding.

Information about the facilities bond can be found on the district website at www.forestlake.k12.mn.us under Quick Links.

Interviewing will occur in March for a new director of special education, with Deb Wall retiring next summer, and a new Linwood principal, with the resignation of Roche Martin already in effect.

A third course in the Chinese foreign language series, school calendars for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, and the crisis management policy (unchanged from last year) were all approved with unanimous votes.

The board also approved a joint powers agreement with Anoka County for the county to handle the school district special election on May 20. A similar agreement with Washington County was signed last month.

The tobacco-free policy, changed to add e-cigarettes to the list of banned products, received one no vote. Member Karen Morehead said e-cigs should not be banned everywhere in the district, because “people trying to give up smoking are using these devices.”

 

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