Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Jan. 24, 2000
LP school board proceeds with grant writer
By Luis Puga
The Lester Prairie School Board directed Rev. John Hogue of Lester Prairie's Evangelical United Church of Christ to proceed with investigating grants for the school district at Tuesday's school board meeting.
Hogue, who has had previous experience in grant writing, told the board that there are three general areas of grants he could investigate: private foundation grants, state grants, and federal grants. The latter he described as quite time consuming to obtain.
However, he asked the board for a clear direction on what type of grants the board would like. He said that grant writing would require clear communication between the writer and the district in order to facilitate the process.
The board, after some brainstorming, generated three directions for Hogue to look into: grants for a developing a gifted and talented program for the school, technology grants, and grants for use be both the city and school district.
Initially, it was suggested that the board take some time to consider what focus it would direct Hogue to pursue, but Hogue suggested the board could be "aggressive" in applying for grants immediately.
He added that he could do more than one grant at a time and, with research and networking, a single grant could take two to three weeks to complete.
The terms of Hogue's compensation was not set at the meeting, but left to the administration to determine. However, some discussion included Hogue working for the district 10 hours per week at $25 per hour.
Board members discussed the content of their next meeting. The board initially approved two meetings during the school year, with one meeting to dedicated discussions of curriculum.
However, Board Member Barry Kyllo inquired as to what structure those meetings would take, particularly since the board would be asking faculty to come before the board to discuss curriculum.
Board members suggested overviews of a specific curriculum, such as math, over the course of a student's life. Another suggestion was to hear what teachers saw as the biggest roadblock to what that teacher wanted to accomplish through the curriculum.
Elementary Principal Richard Hartshorn felt that the board needed to be more specific in its request for a curriculum discussion. He noted that the administration and faculty have already talked and developed lists of obstacles in teaching. He also said he didn't know if it was possible to present a sketch of every phase of a curriculum.
He noted that currently the faculty is spending a great deal of time working on the graduation standard rules, and implementing them into the curriculum. He noted that teachers would probably discuss the graduation standards and a lack of time, if they had an opportunity to comment on curriculum.
After some discussion, the board concluded that it would not have faculty present the next meeting. Rather, the board will review lists of concerns generated by administration/faculty discussions on curriculum and its implementation.
Some discussion was given to the issue of truancy, or unexcused absences, in the high school.
Dean of Students Joe Miller said he intends to meet with Police Chief Fred Blaser, also a board member, and the McLeod County Attorney's office to discuss local problems with student truancy.
Miller said that, currently, the process of involving the county on the issue is "not working to our advantage."
In response, Board Chair Chester Hoernemann said that a previous sheriff had told him that truancy was not a priority with the county.
Miller then said that truant kids do pose a problem for the community, as children not in school can sometimes involve themselves in "other activities" not beneficial to the community.
Kyllo asked if Miller had any idea as to the size of the problem. Miller felt that the problem was not a large one, with maybe one or two consistent cases of truant kids. However, he said, those kids can influence 10 kids to be truant from time to time.
He added that without direct consequences, or involving law enforcement, "There is a perception among kids that nothing happens if you are truant. And they are correct."
Miller said that truancy, which is an unexcused absence over three hours within a three-day period, can be remedied by a call from a parent.
However, he was also concerned about parents' lax attitude for excusing absence from school, for such reasons as haircuts and tanning.
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