«MINNETONKA INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT #276 Service Center 5621 County Road 101 Minnetonka, Minnesota Minutes of March 1, 2012 School Board Meeting ...»
MINNETONKA INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT #276
5621 County Road 101
Minutes of March 1, 2012 School Board Meeting
The School Board of Minnetonka Independent School District #276 met in regular
session at 7:17 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, 2012, in the Community Room at the
District Service Center, 5621 County Road 101, Minnetonka, Minnesota. Chairperson
Karen Walkowski presided. Other Board members present were: Erin Adams, Charlie Kanan, Peg Keenan, Pam Langseth, Lisa Sumner, Lisa Wagner, and Superintendent Dennis Peterson, ex officio.
Prior to the meeting, Board members recognized the MHS Music Listening Team; One Act Play participants; the LEGO League Team; MMW Science Bowl Teams; the Gymnastics Team; Boys Nordic and Alpine Ski Teams; Girls Nordic and Alpine Ski Teams; the Girls Hockey Team; and the Cheer Team.
Chairperson Walkowski called the meeting to order and asked that everyone stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
1. AGENDA Chairperson Walkowski noted that the Board would be moving to Closed Session at the end of the Regular Meeting to discuss negotiations. Wagner moved, Langseth seconded, that the School Board approve the agenda, as modified. Upon vote being taken thereon, the motion carried unanimously.
2. SCHOOL REPORT – MINNETONKA MIDDLE SCHOOL WESTSuperintendent Peterson called upon Bill Jacobson, Principal of Minnetonka Middle School West, to give an update on a new project at MMW and to explain how this project enhanced the HP Seminar course.
By way of a PowerPoint presentation, Mr. Jacobson, along with Margaret McDonald, HP Seminar course instructor, explained that the high potential students had completed creativity projects that asked them to represent themselves while showcasing their learning style, intelligence strengths and creativity through an original creation. The range of thought and creation was quite amazing. Ms.
McDonald explained that the students were really brought out of their comfort zone and asked to get to an end result without any prescriptive directions. A rubric was created that showed the students how their projects would be evaluated, but the actual process of the creation of the project was left up to the students themselves.
Ms. McDonald showed a video that was recorded at the Creativity Project Showcase, in which the students presented their projects. Projects ranged from a knitted skyline of New York City to a prototype for a school of the future. Some of the students utilized technology in their projects, while others did not. Some composed original compositions and performed them at the Showcase. All of the projects allowed the students to tap into their creativity and “think outside the box.” Board members praised Mr. Jacobson and Ms. McDonald for this unique project that allowed the students’ creativity to shine. Ms. McDonald noted that she planned to repeat the project next year and would once again let the students drive the final presentation of the projects.
3. COMMUNITY COMMENTS Chairperson Walkowski outlined the guidelines for the Community Comments portion of the agenda noting that this opportunity was available to members of the audience who wished to address the Board on any item on that night’s agenda. She explained that if an answer were readily available, this would be provided immediately; however, should any concerns need further research, a response would be given at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting. Chairperson Walkowski also noted that at Study Sessions, citizens could address the Board on any issue.
No one responded to this invitation to speak.
4. REPORT ON ACTION PLAN 15.15 Superintendent Peterson called upon Eric Schneider, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, to update the Board on the status of Action Plan 15.15.
Mr. Schneider said his presentation would provide highlights of the work completed on Action Plan 15.15 that involves increasing inquiry-based team learning experiences within the school day for students in grades 9-12. He said that the evening’s presentation would also be touching on Action Plan 15.14 that focused on inquiry-based learning experiences for students in grades 6-8.
By way of a PowerPoint presentation, Mr. Schneider shared the basic building blocks of inquiry-based learning that had been put in place throughout the District.
These included the following:
21st century attributes and attitudes included in all curriculum reviews All sites involved in a book study and/or author visit with Ian Jukes and Lee Crockett (Literacy Is Not Enough) Performance-based assessments (create, publish, perform, etc.) are increasingly integrated into core curriculum Mr. Schneider also discussed the new scoring rubrics, which will implement the assessment tools provided by Ian Jukes and Lee Crockett and begin the process of reporting student achievement and 21st century skills to parents. This work will take place over the coming year and will be accompanied by a variety of parent communications. Mr. Schneider noted that real-world problem solving is key to classroom application of the inquiry-based teaching model. Teachers will continue to be trained and supported as they seek practical applications to engage students in the District’s curriculum. Mr. Schneider discussed the importance of practical writing, oral, presentation, and debate/persuasion skills, and noted that these are all firmly embedded in the current English/Language Arts curriculum review.
2 Mr. Schneider then called upon Pete Dymit, Principal of Minnetonka Middle School East, to discuss the strategies and practices currently taking place at the middle school level.
Mr. Dymit began by stating that the middle school efforts have largely revolved around science, mainly because that had been identified as a growth area. This was tackled on both a systemic level and a course-specific level. Mr. Dymit noted that a new accelerated Science 8 course was set to be offered beginning next year, which would focus on the essential Physical Science 9 skills and concepts, and would be taught through a laboratory-intensive approach. On a systemic level, Mr. Dymit said that staff had worked very hard to embed essential inquiry learning concepts at all grade levels through the engineering design process and experimental design. He also noted that the curriculum focus for the Technology Education 7 course had shifted from woods-based to Lego Robotics modules, which innately lend themselves to inquiry-based learning and 21st century skills. He also said the STEM course in Sixth Grade continues to evolve, and this year had added a consulting business concept, in which the students were given real-world problems (such as hallway traffic at the middle schools) and charged with putting together proposals to solve the problems.
Dave Adney, Principal of Minnetonka High School, began his presentation by stating that work on this Action Plan had been ongoing for the past two-and-a-half years.
He shared six strategies that had been the focus at the high school during this time:
1. Training for teachers and staff, particularly in the area of Science
2. Curriculum development, including over eight new courses that will stress inquiry-based learning, including Introduction to Engineering Design; Principles of Engineering; IB Literature and Performance SL; and IB Further Mathematics SL
3. Staff development, with a monthly focus at staff meetings on pedagogy and teaching and learning strategies
4. Supervision and evaluation of teachers with the opportunity for instant feedback
5. The use of PLCs to assist teachers in updating tests and assessments
6. Student activities, including Robotics, Super Mileage, and DECA Teams Mr. Adney concluded by noting that the work on this Action Plan had come a long way in the past few years. “The speaking, the training, the collaboration as a staff, has caused more insightful production in terms of what we’ll develop as courses over the next few years. We’re not finished with this, but we’ve certainly embedded it to where our kids understand what it is and our staff is modeling it to the best of their ability,” he said.
Chairperson Walkowski thanked Mr. Schneider, Mr. Dymit and Mr. Adney for their work. She noted that both Principals had used the word “operational” several times during their presentation. “The District is committed to ensuring that these plans are operational, and that they become embedded in our operations. It’s encouraging that we’re marching toward that, and that we’re getting there,” she said.
3 Board member Keenan asked what types of changes the Board could expect to see across the K-12 system, and wondered if inquiry-based learning would be seen at every classroom at every single level. Mr. Dymit noted the need to be thoughtful with the approach, and said he doesn’t believe it’s wise to think that an inquiry-based mentality should be embedded across the board, in every class. “At the middle school level, science is a very target-rich course for that approach, but math is less so. With math, it’s not so much about focusing on inquiry learning, but more about focusing on the application of knowledge and formulas,” he said.
Board member Kanan commented on the earlier presentation that evening by Margaret McDonald as being a perfect example of inquiry-based learning and taking students to the next level.
Chairperson Walkowski asked Mr. Schneider what he believed the percentage of completeness would be for this Action Plan. Mr. Schneider said that he believes the plan is 90-95% operational. “We are never done with this. There will be more authentic learning, more authentic assessments, and that’s what resonates with teachers,” he said. Chairperson Walkowski noted that there will be a need for more communication with parents to make this Action Plan fully operational, and Mr.
5. REPORT ON ACTION PLAN 18.7 Superintendent Peterson called upon Pete Dymit, Principal of Minnetonka Middle School East, to update the Board on the status of Action Plan 18.7, which is focused on ensuring that no child is denied a learning or developmental opportunity at school due to socioeconomic circumstances.
Mr. Dymit began by stating that much of the focus of the work on this plan had involved taking a closer look at four areas: extracurricular activity fees; access to technology; field trip fees; and school supply costs. He noted that all schools have added two boxes to forms that request funds from parents: a box to mark if parents are in need of financial assistance to cover the cost of the activity or supply; and a box for parents to mark if they wish to contribute additional money to support families in need of assistance. At the elementary level, field trip fees have been capped at each grade level to $40.00 per year, and a suggested donation of $5.00 per year is being asked of parents to cover classroom “fun” activities.
Parents are allowed to decide how much they want to contribute. Back-to-school supply costs have been capped at $45.00 per child, and pre-packaged school supplies are offered at each school to help reduce the cost. Additionally, lower prices have been negotiated with vendors for items such as planners, field trips, etc.
The Sixth Grade Eagle Bluff trip has been discontinued and replaced with local, less expensive team building/connecting experiences.
Mr. Dymit also discussed how the schools’ PTO/PTA organizations are able to help in this area. The PTO/A scholarship fund in place at each school is periodically reviewed to ensure that it is effectively supporting scholarship needs. Work has also begun on the development of a one-time, comprehensive scholarship request option targeted to FRP families.
4 With regards to working with staff, Mr. Dymit said that building principals are working with staff to ensure that all of them have current information on methods to minimize barriers to full participation on the part of students. Staff is also continually reviewing current and newly proposed requests for items to be funded by parents, to ensure that parent expenses are minimized.
Mr. Dymit concluded by saying that he believes that Action Plan 18.7 is operational.
Due to the nature of the plan, ongoing analysis will take place at a building level to ensure that the spirit of the plan is maintained.
Chairperson Walkowski noted that this plan had been developed prior to the recent economic downturn, and in light of the current situation, was even more timely. “The Board wants to ensure that financial issues are not a barrier to our students, and that resources are made available to all families,” she said.
Board member Keenan shared that she had recently talked to a grandmother of a student at MME who had received a laptop from the district for his use during the year. “This is a family who is experiencing severe financial difficulties, and this will really make a difference in this child’s life,” she said.
Board member Wagner wondered if, due to the economic downturn, there was more that needed to be done in this area. Mr. Dymit responded that building principals were taking a longer look at why some students were opting out of activities and what the underlying reason was for this. Parents may say the child was ill, the family was on a trip, etc., but the real reason for not participating in the activity was due to financial constraints. “We need to make the process of requesting support discreet enough and non-stigmatizing so that families will access that,” he said.
Chairperson Walkowski thanked Mr. Dymit for his comprehensive report.
6. APPROVAL OF POLICY #902: USE OF SCHOOL DISTRICT FACILITIES Superintendent Peterson noted that this policy had been reviewed at the Study Session on February 23, and the changes that had been recommended by the Board that evening had been incorporated. He also said additional changes had been made in the past few days, and he called upon Paul Bourgeois, Executive Director of Finance and Operations, to provide an update on the changes.
Mr. Bourgeois explained that the bulk of the changes to the policy concerned ordering the way that community groups are prioritized for facilities use scheduling.