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

By Bethany Helwig
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Willow River students show growth in winter benchmark testing


February 28, 2019

At the Willow River School Board meeting held on February 19, the results of the winter FastBridge testing reported modest to aggressive growth for both elementary and high school students of Willow River. Superintendent and Elementary Principal Bill Peel reported the numbers.

Data from the test indicates how much change students have made from fall to winter, with percentages indicating flat, modest, typical, or aggressive growth. Winter testing is not mandatory but is used as a guide and benchmark for teachers. Kindergarten through 12th grade were tested.

In math, 88% of elementary and 84% of high school students showed growth. In reading, 86% of elementary and 92% of high school students showed growth.

Due to the snow days the school had, Superintendent Peel moved to extend the school year to May 31 which would be a half day. The last day for teachers would be June 3 after three days of professional development. The motion was passed. Peel said he thought the district could have one more snow day without having to make them up.

Business Manager Laura Carlson presented the revised projected fiscal budget for 2019. The budget needed to be revised because of the change from 465 ADM to 450 ADM (“ADM” is the average daily membership, which is calculated on the number of students enrolled multiplied by their days enrolled and divided by the number of days in the school year). A change in ADM affects the amount of state funding the school is entitled to. Budget cuts, such as a $10,000 reduction in supplies, were made to attempt to balance the budget. Some expense increases were due to hiring of an additional paraprofessional, health insurance benefits, and assigning funds for possibly purchasing two additional buses. The revised budget was passed by motion.

High School Principal Gregg Campbell gave his report, including several upcoming events. The first week of March is spring break. The classroom portion of Driver’s Education will be March 11-22 after school. Motivational speaker, author and artist Eric Timm from Student Reach MN will be at the school March 27 and have a performance for both the elementary and high school. He will also have a performance open to the public 5:30-6:30 p.m.. Following the performance will be a student/parent resource fair.

Director Aziz Al-Arfaj gave the report for the facilities/activities committee. The committee discussed the football lights and options, the bus situation, bus garage, sidewalks project, long-term facility maintenance (LTFM) projects, HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) project upcoming this summer, moving of the Takedown Club wrestling practice space to the basement, and future discussions regarding the softball field.

Superintendent Peel then passed out certificates of appreciation to the members of the board for school board appreciation week.

In other business, the council passed a resolution authorizing Board Secretary Tara Prachar to use the district credit card.

The student body increased by one additional student to 417 students enrolled.

A motion was passed to pay a repair bill for leaks in the school’s hot water system.

A number of policies were updated: (417) Chemical Use and Abuse, (420) Students and Employees with Sexually and Other Communicable Transmitted Infections and Disease, (421) Gifts to Employees and School Board Minutes, (422) Policies Incorporated by Reference, (423) Employee – Student Relationships, and (424) License Status.

Various donations to the school totaling $6,500 were accepted.

The regular March school board meeting was scheduled earlier at 5 p.m. March 19, due to the special election being held that day, and the board set up a committee of the whole meeting for 7:30 a.m. on Monday, March 25.


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