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ELC eyes innovative school calendar

By Staff | Oct 15, 2008

In a public hearing Monday, the Estherville Lincoln Central Board of Education approved an innovative school calendar for 2009-10.

Superintendent Dick Magnuson said the 2009-10 school calendar needs to take into consideration ongoing construction of school buildings. He said this year school should get out June 2 barring snow days. He projected a start date of Sept. 8 with a projected end date of June 7, 2010, leaving less than three months of construction for North Roosevelt.

Magnuson said he would try to have a full calendar to the board by February.

In other business, the board also held a public hearing on bids for houses the district owns and needs moved. No bids were received; however, the district will rebid on one of the homes with a required minimum bid to cover basement demolition while the other bid for the house on First Avenue will be for demolition.

Jenny Boggess discussed cognitive guided instruction for elementary teachers. The teaching method focuses on student understanding. Students are encouraged to use a variety of methods to solve problems. Students are also asked to explain how they arrived at their answers, in essence making them teachers for the rest of the class.

“They’ve gone up in their thinking,” Boggess said of the results of CGI. “They’ve gotten to be more advanced.”

Estherville Lincoln Central Principal Kris Schlievert said 15 of 33 elementary teachers have had CGI training, a strategy used by teachers of students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Magnuson said the board will need to reduce spending this year in order to remain within state-authorized spending authority. He noted that after ELC set its 2002 budget the following November the state reduced the spending authority of all Iowa school districts by 4.3 percent which gave the district a negative budget. If the district can remain within a 1.3-1.5 percent margin of spending authority it can weather any budget pressures, he said.

“We’re beyond containing costs. We need to reduce – quite a bit,” Magnuson said. “If we’re going to be successful in this we’re going to have to make some changes.”

Magnuson said 80 percent of the district budget is comprised of salaries and benefits.

In his report, ELC Principal Frank Christenson said the band was 1-2 points from a Division I rating.

Regarding high-school grades, Christenson said incompleted homework was the main reason for student grade deficiencies.

Schlievert said the Demoney Elementary open house will be postponed from its original slated date of Oct. 28. The new date will be announced later.

In other business, Magnuson discussed the Fire Life Safety grant, noted that the facilities maintenance plan needs to be approved by the board, and that future use of the McKinley building should consider possible use for students.

Magnuson said the Teacher Quality Allocation will add $3,029 to the salary of every teacher. In some cases, teachers at the top of the scale could get $5,300 more, he said.

The board withheld action on allowable growth requests until the November meeting. The board approved second reading of 100-200 series policies and first reading of 300 series policies.

Magnuson also asked the board to consider offering an early retirement policy for the 2009-2010 school year at its November meeting.

Following the regular meeting, the board also went into closed session for a collective bargaining strategy session.