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A-R tightening academic standards

By Staff | Oct 29, 2008

Students who thought they could breeze through Armstrong-Ringsted Community School can think again.

The school administration Monday night told board members how it wants to tighten standards – even if it means either holding students back or having them make up deficiencies in summer school.

Principal Matt Berninghaus said the reason for the stricter standards is that a problem has been detected of having middle-school students going on to high school even though they are deficient in certain areas. In response, Berninghaus said a summer program could be offered to students going from the seventh to eighth grade and eighth grade to high school.

Rather than repeat an entire course, students would focus on given standards they did not meet. Students who were deemed deficient and chose not to take the summer school option would be retained in their current grade.

Superintendent Randy Collins said the district would need to budget for the program. By having the summer school option, the district would be sending the message that students need to take their classes seriously. “We’ve got to communicate to the students that we’re serious and they’ve got to demonstrate competence and skills,” Collins said.

In other business Monday, Berninghaus noted a growing problem of student cell phone use in the Armstrong building.

He outlined a procedure calling for increasingly stringent penalties depending on the number of times a student violated the policy.

Steve Waldstein, industrial technology instructor, gave the board a tour of the shop area in Armstrong. Waldstein said five or six classes offered in the program could become college-credit based.

Another possibility is adult education industrial tech classes.

“We’re really looking forward to bringing the whole community into this department,” Waldstein said.

Waldstein said students who take classes in the program can be employment ready upon graduation at Armstrong industries such as GKN and Art’s-Way Manufacturing.

In other business Monday night:

n Transportation and Activities Director Nate Hanson gave the transportation and activity reports. Hanson noted that eighth-grade culinary students assemble food packages for Woodbine football players to take home after their game with A-R Wednesday night.

n With sharing agreements with the City of Armstrong for maintenance director and with Sentral Community School District for transportation, A-R will have $56,794 in added state funding next year, Collins said. “The vision is long-term we want to be a magnet school” by attracting more open enrollment students than losing them to other districts, Collins said. He also noted that A-R is host school to other schools for Spanish and business courses taught on the ICN.

n Collins said Iowa Department of Education projections show district enrollment as bottoming out next school year then remaining stable. He said he will update the board on the district’s financial status at the November board meeting.

n The board agreed on the need for a board goal-setting work session.

n Several board members indicated they will attend the Iowa School Board Association convention.

n The board also approved an early start calendar for 2009-10, School Budget Review Committee applications and a modified allowable growth application for at-risk programs.

n Also approved was a school bus lease for $13,868 a year for three years with the option of paying the bus off at the end of that time.

n The board tabled review of policies 300-307.

n The set the next meeting for 7 p.m. Nov. 24.