New activities director to begin in July
At the May 1 meeting, the ISD 831 school board approved the appointment of Aaron Forsythe, who will become the new activities director in July.
The former Ranger hockey standout has held several roles for the district. He was hired in 2007 as a social studies teacher, took a new post as junior high activities coordinator in May 2013, and last December shifted to an assistant principal slot at the high school. He has also been the varsity boys hockey coach since 2007.
Last week, he resigned that duty in the wake of his hiring as activities director. Forsythe told the Times he met with his players on Friday, then told parents of his decision at a booster club meeting on Sunday.
Forest Lake High School Principal Steve Massey introduced Forsythe at the school board meeting, saying he was chosen from an extremely competitive pool of 85 applicants.
While working on an undergraduate degree in social studies education at Mankato State University, Massey said, Forsythe won an all-academic award. His master’s degree is from the College of St. Scholastica. He was hired as a social studies teacher at Forest Lake High School and recently served as activities coordinator and assistant principal.
His time leading the Ranger hockey program came after playing Division 1 hockey in college.
“He built the hockey youth program from 20 to 120 kids,” Massey said. “He’s the most winning hockey coach in school history.”
When chosen as activities assistant last year, Forsythe changed the registration system from paper to online and expanded the web presence for all activities, Massey said.
Forsythe said extracurricular activities are important for kids to learn life lessons such as dedication, perseverance, even how to fail in front of thousands of people, and are also a source of pride for the school.
He said he values clear, concise communication and will work to support both the existing powerhouse programs and those with “untapped potential.”
“I can’t wait to get to work,” he concluded.
At the school board meeting, Curriculum Director Diane Giorgi presented a draft of a teacher development and evaluation plan created by a committee of district administrative staff and representatives of the teacher union.
Minnesota requires that the district and union reach a joint agreement on an evaluation model or use the state model.
The Q Comp alternative pay system will be in place when the 2014-2015 school year begins. Because the Q Comp plan was designed with the state requirement in mind, Giorgi said, “the pieces dovetail very well.”
The plan must be approved by the teacher union and the school board. The board is scheduled to vote on May 15 and the teachers on May 28.
The board voted to revise Policy 515, on discipline, to add a restorative justice step to the corrective measures.
In addition, sections limiting secondary student cell phone and camera use in school were deleted. Cell phones and cameras were added to another section, inappropriate use of technology.
“We have programs at the high school that have students bring their own devices for use in an instructional fashion,” so it does not make sense to keep these restrictions, Human Resources Director Donna Friedman explained after the meeting.
The board also voted to incorporate Policy 523, cancellation of student activities, into Policy 608, emergency closing of schools.
Policy 608 lets the superintendent call off school for bad weather. If school is not held or closes early, or if activity buses are canceled, all scheduled after-school activities are automatically canceled. The superintendent can, however, decide to hold an activity under special circumstances, for example, if it is necessary for districts to move toward a state tournament.
Policy 503, compulsory attendance, was discontinued because it was determined to be out of date. That policy read, “Every child between the age of 7 and 16 shall attend a public or private school. On application of the parents to the School Board, a child less than 16 years of age may be excused if he has finished the 10th grade.”
Policy 425, harassment and violence, is reviewed annually. It was presented to the board for first reading with no changes recommended.
Principal Neal Fox showed a video of Columbus Elementary, which is in its 38th year.
For the past 11 years, the school has been designated a School of Excellence by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association.
Art works decorate the walls, the result of student collaborations with visiting artists.
A character campaign focuses on eight desirable traits.
Each teacher has a Smart Board, and Lenova recently donated 100 laptops to the school.
Reading is assessed three times a year. Some students receive daily tutoring.
The video shows a sixth-grade science project in which students test the strength of bridges they built, and a science fair for which students conducted experiments and displayed their results.
Every year the third grade receives dictionaries from the Lions, and the fifth grade puts on a musical. Orchestra and band are offered beginning in sixth grade.
Fundraisers include Cougar Fitness Days in the fall and Family Fun Night in the spring. Fox said the spring carnival, held May 2 this year, typically raises $20,000.
The video will be posted on the school’s website.