Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By A. R. Vander Vegt
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Willow River principal rethinks how MCA downtime is spent


December 27, 2018

The Willow River School Board approved the 2019 levy at its regular meeting Tuesday, December 18. The levy will be a 1.79 percent decrease from last year, Business Manager Laura Carlson reported during the Truth in Taxation hearing.

Carlson showed both the Referendum Market Value (RMV) and Net Tax Capacity (NTC). Pupil units are decreasing at Willow River, Carlson said. The equalization rate also changed, leading to a decreased RMV. The NTC “decreased due to prior year final adjustments. Corrections were made for years 2017 and 2018. One big adjustment was reemployment,” Carlson’s report stated.

Later in the school board meeting, the 2019 levy was certified.

Secondary Principal Gregg Campbell shared that Willow River High School is now part of Pine Technical and Community College’s Kick Start Scholarship program. The scholarship is offered to students who receive free and reduced lunches and pays a year’s tuition as well as offering a $1,000 stipend for school-related expenses.

Campbell said the program was originally only offered to schools within close proximity to the college, but has secured more funding.

In his report, Campbell also mentioned an idea to use Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) testing days a little differently this year.

“Other than graduation requirements, what do we want our students to know?” Campbell asked. This question is spurring him and others to use MCA days to teach life lessons to students who are not being tested. That downtime can be used to teach life basics that are not covered in classes — from changing a tire to more abstract life lessons.

Dave Prachar of the Liaison Committee recapped the Sports Cooperative Meeting, which discussed emphasizing the difference between elementary sports and co-op sports. Elementary sports are not part of the cooperative, he said.

Board Member Bruce Bohaty agreed. “(There’s) possibly a perception that the school is responsible for those activities.” While sports organized at the elementary level use the Rebels branding and facilities, they are not part of the cooperative. The way those sports are staffed and coached do not necessarily comply with the co-op agreement or go through the same vetting processes.

Willow River administrative staff will be attending training on how to better combat truancy issues within the state, Superintendent Bill Peel reported.

Truancy, he said, is a statewide issue. In a school the size of Willow River, every student matters. Currently attendance is at an 83.9 percent rate. “Good is 90 percent,” he said. “We’re a little below that.”

School is in session for 171 days. Students who miss 17 days of school have already missed 10 percent of the school year.

The training, which will take place in the Twin Cities, is being sponsored by a collaborative with Pine County and will come with no cost to the district.

Willow River School Board accepted an impressive amount of donations this month, totaling $7,705. Donations ranged from $20 to $1,250 going towards prom, Trap League, the playground fund, Wolf Ridge, Hugs and Hellos for Heroes, and more.

Prachar called the donation amounts “very impressive and very appreciated.”


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