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Paynesville Press - February 16, 2005

School board considers credit transfer methods

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Area School Board took the following actions at their meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 8.

* The board reviewed a draft policy on admissions of transfer students and acceptance of credits, which includes home-schooled students.

The district is looking at a policy because of the increase of student movement and home-schooled students. The goal of the policy is to insure that students get proper credit from their previous courses of study and can graduate from PAHS. Such a policy is not common now, with district administrators modeling most of the proposed policy on one from Arkansas.

Facets of the policy include: providing current standard achievement testing results and other data to indicate the student's level; taking a standardized achievement test if needed to place the student; holding a placement conference; and collecting curriculum information for home-schooled students (who may receive credits and grades if warranted).

Having such a policy is needed, said high school principal John Janotta, because the number of transfer students, including home-schooled students, has increased dramatically. School officials need the guidance of an official policy, Janotta told the board. The school also needs safeguards for students who are home-schooled for a single class (to avoid a certain teacher, for instance) to insure proper home-school instruction.

In addition to the model policy, Janotta reviewed the proposed policy with the teaching staff. At their urging, the proposed policy recommends that class rank will only be figured for students who have attended all four years of high school at an accredited institution.

Whichever way the board decides on this issue, said Janotta, may not please everyone. Class rank is supposed to be a comparison of student achievement, and the teachers felt that students needed to attend an accredited institution for a valid comparison. (Some Internet classes for home-schooled students may qualify as accredited classes.) All students would receive a GPA under the proposed policy, but some students would not be ranked in contrast to their peers.

The board took no official action on the proposed policy. They did suggest to Janotta that an introduction, explaining the policy's purpose and making it more welcoming, be added. The board is expected to address this policy again at its next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

* The board accepted a retirement resignation letter from Janotta, who announced his intention to retire at the conclusion of the 2004-05 school year. (See related story) * The board also accepted resignation letters from high school teacher Murry Rafferty and elementary school teacher Ann Lundgren at the conclusion of the 2004-05 school year. Both have taught for 35 years, with Lundgren's time all being with the district and with Rafferty spending 17 years in the district.

* The board reviewed the yearly goals, and progress towards them, of superintendent Todd Burlingame: learn more about school finance;improve communication; promote academic excellence; and provide student and staff recognition.

* The board approved a resignation request from instructional aide Barb Hanson and approved hiring Kris Lang as her replacement.

* The board approved a long-term substitute contract for Bob Bowden, through April 1.

* The board approved an agreement to have Northland Securities perform an annual review of the district's bond issues, as required by law. The cost is a $1,000 retainer plus $250 and expenses per bond issue.

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