Facility taskforce approved by school board

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 2/16/99.

The Paynesville Area School Board approved a facility study taskforce to study the districtís potential needs of an auditorium and fitness center.

The board approved a 19-member taskforce as follows:
Staff: Cheryl Bungum, Ken Vork, Carol Smith, and Dick Realdsen;

Community members: Bob Gardner, Bev Mueller, Dale Lorenz, Gretchen OíFallon, Dan Anderson, Doris Dodds, Gary Roberg, and Rick Hoyme;

Administrators: Steve Brisendine, Lew Storkamp, John Janotta, Deb Gillman, and Howard Caldwell;

Board members: Pat Flanders and Debora Glenz;

Alternate board members: Maurice Dosdall and Velda Larson.

The community members will be informed individually by phone. Appointed members are not obligated to serve, and the board could appoint additional people to the taskforce.

Superintendent Howard Caldwell said his office would notify the taskforce members by letter when the first meeting was scheduled. He added that the board should get started interviewing architect and construction manager candidates because their input will be needed on the taskforce.

The board indicated it will probably arrange a special meeting to interview interested candidates.

Data privacy policy
The board also reviewed a new data privacy policy. Unsure when it was adopted, the administration felt the current 10-page policy might be out of date. In its place, they presented the board with a standard policy from the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA).

One difference between the policies is that the MSBA policy would permit the school to release addresses and phone numbers of students. Currently the school does not release that information. High school principal John Janotta had checked with other schools and found that some schools released this information and others did not.

According to Janotta, the information is requested by military and college recruiters, senators and representatives, and prospective employees.

Board member Maurice Dosdall said he would not support providing that information unless it would benefit the student.

Board member Dean Hanson was more emphatic in opposition to releasing addresses and phone numbers. He thought recruiters had ample opportunity to distribute information, including placards plastered to the walls. Unsolicited phone calls at night he called ďintrusive and invasive.Ē

Currently, the school can provide student names only. Board member Debora Glenz wondered how someone could contact a student with just a name, noting that she had trouble herself because she didnít know the parentís name.

Board chairman Pat Flanders raised another objection to the MSBA policy. He felt the 25-page document was impractical, and so complicated that you would have to rely on lawyers to interpret it. After reading it, he said he just wanted to throw it away. ďIím not at all convinced that this couldnít be five pages long,Ē Flanders explained.

Caldwell agreed that the proposed document was cumbersome.

There was some disagreement among board members as to whether a longer or shorter policy would provide more protection against lawsuits. They agreed that you could get sued either way. Glenz said a longer policy would indicate care and concern about the issue.

Flanders thought the long policy would give more ammunition to potential litigants. The complexity of the policy might lead to errors in implementing it, and any discrepancies could be exploited. ďI just think this is going to create more lawsuits than itís going to eliminate,Ē†he said.

The board took no action on the proposed policy. This issue will be on the boardís agenda again.

Principalsí reports
At Janottaís request, the board approved Wednesday, March 10, as a student enrichment day for the 12th grade students. On that day, the 11th grade students will be given the California Test of Basic Skills. The school can compare our results with other schools across the state and country, and use that as a basis of evaluating our programs.

Since the teachers are needed to administer the test and half the senior grades will be busy, it is impractical to force the 12th grade to come to school. Students are encouraged to use the day for visits to colleges or vocational schools and for other wise uses.

Janotta mentioned that 95 percent of Paynesvilleís 11th graders had already passed the basic skills test in mathematics. In reading, 92 percent have passed already. That means, out of 118 juniors, seven have yet to pass the math test and nine the reading. These students retook the test last week, but those results are not known yet, so those numbers might be reduced further.

A Letter to the Editor in the Feb. 3 Press was accurate, according to Janotta. The high school does not offer advanced placement courses. These courses would require an investment in time by teachers, and couldnít be offered without making cuts in other programs. Students still do have the option of post-secondary enrollment, and there are four colleges within 30 miles of Paynesville. Janotta believes the current curriculum prepares students for college from feedback he receives from first-year college students.

Elementary school principal Gary Heineman said they will be hosting two artists in residence from April 21 to 23. Also, the third and fifth graders will be taking basic-skills test in March.

Middle school principal Deb Gillman said she was pleased with the eighth grade basic-skills test last week, both the preparation for it and the seriousness with which the students took it. The middle school students will be participating in winter exploratory on Friday. Activities will be held at the school and out of town.

Food service report
The school board will have to decide by June 30 if the schools will continue to provide its breakfast program. Barb Koehn, food service manager, told the board that the percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunches had dropped below the state cut offs for mandatory breakfasts.

Participation has gone down in the past year. Last May, the schools served an average of 57 breakfasts a day. In January, the average was only 29 students per day. Koehn said they need at least 25 students per day to break even.

Koehn also said there are now five options for lunch available to middle and high school students: a choice of two hot entrees, chefís salad, fruit salad, and a bag lunch.

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