Column: From the Desk: By Jerry Ness
We are excited to start a new school year and partner with parents to provide their child with an excellent education. We are also excited to welcome 70-plus new staff members, including 25 teachers to Fergus Falls Public Schools. Our kindergarten class is again over 200 students and will have nine sections. Congratulations to Jamie Lill for being named FFEA Teacher of the Year! Jamie is a physical education teacher at McKinley School.
District’s Mission & Goals
The mission of the Fergus Falls Public Schools is to prepare all students to be productive citizens through academic excellence in partnership with families and community.
The Fergus Falls School Board has adopted the state mandated World’s Best Workforce goals again this year. The staff at each school building will adopt specific and measureable goals and strategies to increase student achievement.
The district will measure its effectiveness by:
• Expecting that students entering kindergarten meet school readiness goals.
• Achieving grade-level literacy with all third grade students.
• Closing the achievement gap among all ethnic and socioeconomic groups of students.
• Attaining college and career readiness before graduating from high school for all students.
•Having all students graduate from high school.
•Establishing effective two-way communication with parent/guardians and other stakeholders in the community.
Excellent Test Scores
In early August, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) released the 2017 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment scores for all schools. Commissioner Cassellius stated she was disappointed in the test results because reading scores were stagnant, while math scores declined. But, that was not the case at the Fergus Falls Public Schools!
The Fergus Falls Public Schools increased in six of seven grades in math, seven of seven in reading and three of four in science. We were 5-9 percent above the state average in math (third, fourth and seventh grades) and reading (fifth, seventh and eighth grades). We scored 10-14 percent above the state average in math (sixth grade), reading (third and sixth grades), and science (fifth grade). Our students also scored 15 percent or higher in math (Eighth and 11th grades), reading (10th grade), and science (eighth grade and high school). There was a significant 14 percent reading increase for grades seven and eight; and a 14 percent math increase for grade 11.
Using MDE’s Minnesota report data, the Fergus Falls Public Schools overall scored higher in reading, math and science than our neighboring districts. Congratulations students and staff on the outstanding test scores!
Fifth Grade Move
We are excited to welcome fifth grade students to the Kennedy Secondary School (KSS). The fifth and sixth grade students will be located in the three-story addition at KSS completed in 2010. This wing is located near gyms, music rooms, cafeteria and offices. The new middle school playground is open for use!
Safety for our students around our school buildings is of the utmost importance. Please drive slowly and follow all traffic laws. Parents should set a good example by using crosswalks and avoid walking between buses or through busy parking lots when picking up their child.
Long-Term Facility Committee
With the Fergus Falls Public Schools’ continued student growth over the past five years, the school board is forming a long-term Facility Committee to plan for the future. Please contact Superintendent Ness (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in participating in the Long-Term Facility planning process. The school board will select the membership to this committee during the September 11 work session. Meeting times are scheduled for the fourth Monday of each month following the regular 5 p.m. school board meeting.
Jerry Ness is the Fergus Falls School District superintendent. His column appears each Wednesday.