Both our students and staff take the gift of giving seriously, especially around the holidays. Our staff has collected personal funds and shared with students and charity organizations. Students have raised funds through Penny Wars and collected items through food drives, Toys for Tots, and Presents for Pets. I have seen many, many displays of caring for others. Our staff and students resemble our community — very generous, thoughtful and compassionate!

School Board members

With Tarma Carlson (16 years of service) and Jeff Hohrman (eight years of service) completing their last school board meeting on Dec. 12, I would like to take this opportunity to thank them both for their service and commitment to the Fergus Falls School District. Tarma and Jeff served through some challenging, along with rewarding times for our School District.

Through it all, they have been very active and quality board members. Thank you!

Dec. 12 meetings

Four meetings were held last Monday night, prior to the School Board meeting: student placement, World’s Best Workforce, Internet safety and taxes payable. Carri Thompson, curriculum coordinator, presented the World’s Best Workforce report, which outlines the District goals and data. The full report can be found at the District’s website — fergusotters.org.

Mark Masten, business manager, reviewed our internet safety policy and taxes payable. The District approved a 2 percent increase in the levy for the 2017-18 school year.

The majority of the audience that evening were interested in the student placement informational meeting. During the meeting, the District Facility Plan document — which outlines student placement options — was reviewed, followed by a question and answer session.

Options discussed included adding portable classrooms to Cleveland School and moving fifth grade to Kennedy Secondary School. The Student Placement Committee members, who responded to a survey, preferred moving fifth grade to KSS.

The Student Placement Committee felt the following criteria were the most important when considering student placement: class size, student achievement, keeping grade levels and departments together, long-term planning and fewer transitions (between buildings) for students.

Cleveland (grades 3-5) with portable classrooms

Comments on this option: The additional portable classrooms would allow for additional sections to lower class size. The portables do not solve the issue of crowding in the hallways, nurse’s office, office, additional bathrooms and cafeteria. Portables are a temporary fix. The location of the portables is an issue — they would not be placed over the well field. If placed at the south end of building, they would have to be moved to build a permanent structure.

This plan does allow for further planning with more data on class sizes entering kindergarten. It keeps grade five at Cleveland, which allows for continued student enrollment growth of 6-12 at KSS/REC. Portables and a bond referendum are an increased cost to the taxpayers. The portables have to be attached to the building with a handicap accessible hallway.

The portables would need security, phones, technology, wireless, intercom, emergency notifications, which would all have to addressed using district facility funds.

Moving fifth to Kennedy Secondary School

Comments on this option: If this option was selected, Cleveland would have classroom space for additional sections to reduce class size. Fifth grade moving to KSS relieves the issue of crowding in the hallways, nurse’s office, office, additional bathrooms and cafeteria. Band and orchestra students would not travel, which would save time and busing costs. Eight sections of each grade will fit in KSS for five years without moving additional high school classrooms to the REC building.

A fifth-eighth grade age appropriate outdoor activity playground would be needed. Utilizes the district’s available space and is the most cost effective. Continued student enrollment growth would expand classroom use at Roosevelt Education Center. There would be an increase in vehicle congestion at KSS.

In the big picture, increasing enrollment is very positive for our school district.

The committee has made it clear — reducing class size is the most important criteria for any plan. The committee also indicated they would like to explore other “out of the box” solutions for the long term.

The School Board has difficult, but exciting decisions to make for the short and long term.

The committee has contributed valuable information and ideas for the School Board to consider.

Jerry Ness is the superintendent of Fergus Falls Public Schools. His column appears every Wednesday.

Newsletters

Enter your email address and select the newsletters you would like to receive.

Load comments