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

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Barnum considers multi-district classrooms

Districts across Carlton Co. look for ways to maximize tech use and fight enrollment trends


January 10, 2019

The Barnum School Board elected officers at the organizational meeting of the board on Wednesday, January 2.

The new school board member, Beth Schatz, was welcomed to the board.

Paul Coughlin was elected chair, Jamie Fuglestad was elected the vice-chair, Tim Peterson was elected the clerk, and Jessica Unkelhaeuser was elected the treasurer.

After the appointments to the committees were made, the meeting was adjourned, and the working meeting of the board was called to order.

Superintendent Dave Bottem told about a meeting with other superintendents from nearby schools and their discussion about offering classes to juniors and seniors.

“For example, if Cromwell offered Spanish I, the students there could get Spanish II from another school,” he explained. “It’s an opportunity for our kids and an opportunity for our teachers county-wide.”

Bottem added that other schools, like Barnum, are experiencing declining enrollment, and students in some schools, like Esko, are attending college classes while still in high school.

“We can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing,” he said. “We’ve been talking about this for 15 years. We have the technology now.”

Bottem explained that the classes could be shared between the schools with the Schoology program, which all but two of the schools in Carlton County are already using. He said that offering the classes could add two or three more students to an online class, which would not make much difference.

In some cases, the students would have to travel to another school for classes.

“The shop area at Barnum is not busy for parts of the day,” Bottem explained. “The kids could come here and use the shop all afternoon. Our kids could take classes elsewhere, such as gourmet cooking.”

In his report, High School Principal Brian Kazmierczak added that the principals were going to meet January 9 and discuss each school specializing in a class.

“Carlton could offer a law enforcement class, Barnum could offer Industrial Technology, and Esko could offer Certified Nurse Assistant classes, for example,” he said.

Bottem said further discussions will be held. It is planned to offer the classes in the fall.

“Where there is a will, there is a way to figure things out,” he said.

Bottem also told the board that the name of the road where the school is located will be changed. Currently, the road is County Road 140 but it is not a state aid road and will be changed to County Road 13. The school’s address number, 3675, will not change.

Coughlin explained that he had learned that county roads that are not state aid roads cannot be numbered above 100, he said.

“It has to do with funding,” he said. “It is determined by the traffic pattern.”

Bottem said he has talked to the Barnum postmaster and was told that mail to the school will still be delivered to the County Road 140 address.

Kasmierczak spoke about Essential Standards.

“There have been discussions about what happens when the students in the classroom don’t get it,” he said. “There will be interventions of Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3, where the students will get more help.”

Elementary Principal Judy Vitito also spoke about the tiers and what would be provided for math and other classes. She also spoke about Socio-Emotional Learning.

“We look at the whole child and support the child,” she said. “Kids are coming to us with more of those emotional needs. We give the kids strategies and give kids a way to handle things.

Roxy Olson-Hurst, the Community Ed Director, held up an infant’s garment that will be given to all babies born in the Barnum School District in 2019.

The onesie was maroon with the words “Future Barnum Bomber” printed on it.

“We will be promoting this on social media,” she said.

Vitito and several elementary teachers spoke about the site visit to Greenville Elementary School in Wayzata on December 3, and what they learned during the visit.

“The whole environment was welcoming,” was one comment. “Things were driven by the kids’ needs. Everyone was engaged.”

Another teacher spoke about several different types of seating in one classroom and said that she wanted to incorporate that into some of the classrooms at Barnum Elementary.

Other topics discussed were a Passion Hour, where research project was done by students in a fifth-grade classroom, and team teaching, where two teachers would throw the teaching back and forth between them.

“The students were engaged and knew their routines and responsibilities,” the teacher said.

The teachers said they learned new methods that they were going to bring to Barnum Elementary.

Vitito said that the latest rendering of the layout of the proposed elementary playground would be brought to the committee on January 19.

“The playground contractor is working to make sure that the cost of the equipment fits into our $130,000 budget,” she said.

The new equipment is planned to be installed in June.

Bottem said the existing playground equipment will be advertised for sale. The buyer will have to remove the equipment. Fuglestad has offered to haul it.

Bottem said that the proposals have to come with a plan of how the equipment was going to be used.

There was discussion about marketing the school and creating more school pride. It was pointed out that 75 percent of the school district residents were not engaged with the school and ideas were presented about how to change that.

There was also discussion about charging community groups for the use of the school when custodians are not normally on duty, such as on Saturdays.

Bottem said the custodians have been asked to volunteer their time for after-hour events but had stated that they wanted to be paid for their time. He added that the school could not afford to pay them without being compensated by the group that hosted the event.

The regular monthly meeting of the board was set for Tuesday, Jan. 12, at 6:30 p.m.


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