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DC School Board approves first digital learning curriculum
Monday, June 4, 2012

By Jennifer Kotila
Staff Writer

DASSEL, COKATO, MN – Teachers Brian Johnson and Amy Schultz, and curriculum director Lorene Force presented the scope and sequence for ninth through 12th grade English, which was approved by the Dassel-Cokato School Board, at the meeting May 24.

This will be the first group to use the teacher-developed online textbooks, which DC Media Specialist Paul Beckermann will be assisting the teachers to develop this summer.

“Well, these are the ones we’ve been using all along – the classics,” were comments made by the curriculum advisory committee (CAC) while reviewing the curriculum, Force said.

Although there was a “game-change” halfway through developing the curriculum, when the district decided to allow the English department to be the first to use one-to-one technology, it “will play out nicely for the students,” Force said.

Force pointed out the mission statement of the CAC, which is that DC Schools will provide a sequential, challenging curriculum in reading, writing, speaking, and media literacy so that all students develop communication and technological skills needed to be literate, 21st-century learners.

Allowing the English department to begin the digital learning initiative at DC is aligning the department with its mission statement, Force noted.

Johnson noted that as the CAC was evaluating textbooks, the group looked at how much of the hard-copy textbooks were not actually being used by the English department, and how much money the district was wasting.

Although the department will be writing the curriculum over the summer, it will only be half of the program, Johnson noted.

“As true English teachers, we’ll always be revising,” Johnson said.

Schultz noted that the department was “really thrown a curve ball” when high school communications teacher Drew Gilmore resigned recently.

“The new teacher starting with us will be learning right along with us,” Schultz said.

School Board Member Mark Linder asked whether constantly tweaking the curriculum would reach a point where a teacher’s own thoughts were not in line with the scope and sequence developed by the district.

“If any of us sees a red flag, we speak up,” Schultz said, noting that she grew up in the community, knows the pulse of the community, and would be able to direct others in what was or was not appropriate.

“Are we nervous? Yes, but know that we care about the end result,” Johnson said.

Slow enrollment for preschool this year

School Board Member Rebecca Clemen informed the board that enrollment for preschool has been slow this year.

There are six sections of preschool, and most of them still have spots open, which is unusual, Clemen said.

DC trail update

After further clarification about the maintenance plan, and what maintenance will take place this year, the board released the money set aside for the DC Trail.

At this point, the district, the city of Cokato, and the city of Dassel have each contributed $25,000 for the trail, and Dassel Township has contributed $30,000, said School Board Member Irene Bender.

Collinwood Township also contributed $5,000, and the Red Rooster Days committee contributed $1,000, Bender noted.

The school board also approved a $200 donation from Design and Fabricating in Cokato for the trail at the meeting.

In addition, the trail board is asking each entity that is part of the trail committee to set aside $2,500 annually for continued maintenance and repair of the trail.

The maintenance and repair plan was approved by the trail board at its May 9 meeting.

Phase one of the repair plan is to dig up and repair low areas and apply a 1.5 inch overlay on the trail from 735th Avenue near Dassel to the Meeker County line, and from the Cokato Town and Country Club to one mile west of Cokato.

The estimated cost of the these repairs would be $98,000. If properly resurfaced every three years, the repairs would last for approximately 15 to 20 years, according to the trail maintenance plan.

Other items in the trail maintenance plan include mowing the grass on both sides of the trail regularly, filling cracks as necessary, sweeping the path annually with a motorized sweeper, repairing erosion as necessary, and inspecting the trail routinely.

K-3 literacy plan approved

The K-3 Literacy Plan, which is required by the Minnesota Department of Education, and is due in June, was presented to the board by Dassel Elementary Principal Debbie Morris and Cokato Elementary Principal Lorene Force.

“To me, this is stating the obvious. I thought we had a good plan in place, but it’s good to put it on paper,” Force said.

The plan includes:

• providing students with competent, scientifically-based reading instruction;

• notifying the parent of student progress at least yearly; and,

• responding to intervention, intervening if students are struggling, rather than just moving ahead.

The legislation requiring the literacy plan also calls for literacy incentive aid for performance on the third- and fourth-grade MCAs, but it does not designate where the money would go, Force said.

Morris noted that the elementary schools work hard to make sure the current curriculum is in line with English language arts standards.

“It kind of felt like we were strutting the stuff we already did,” Morris said of preparing the plan.

Once finalized, the plan will be posted on the district’s website.

Odds and ends

In other business, the board:

• approved the 2012-13 capital plan, which totals $987,725.

Items in the plan include $560,835 annual building allocation, $184,600 for a lease payment, $25,000 for the bike path, $125,000 for the lift station repairs, and $68,490 for computer purchases.

Smaller items included sidewalk and parking lot repairs, as well as radios for the Cokato buses.

• approved district in-service courses for the staff.

• approved the employment of Amy Bollman as a special needs middle school instructor; Matt Hogg as a fifth grade teacher; Samantha Keicker as a middle school family and consumer science teacher; Joseph Kley as a fourth grade long-term substitute teacher; Nancy Madsen as a Dassel Elementary first grade teacher; Amy Martinson as a Cokato Elementary special needs teacher; Nate Raabe as the high school vocal music instructor; Beth Steinleitner as the middle school social worker; Ann Vanderbilt as the Dassel Elementary speech and language pathologist; Rebecca Vossen-Mathies as a Cokato Elementary first grade long-term substitute; Kim E. Johnson as the middle school administrative secretary; Krysten Dane as the high school family and consumer science teacher; Dennis Abernathy as the high school dean of students; and, Neil Schlagel as the high school and alternative learning center business long-term substitute.

• approved the resignation of Drew Gilmore as a high school communications instructor; Megan Van Zuilen as the high school Spanish and district English-as-a-second-language instructor; Connie Hendrickson as a Dassel Elementary paraeducator; Kim E. Johnson as the middle school assistant administrative secretary; and Peggy Smith as the middle school volunteer coordinator.

• approved lane changes for Karley DePatto, Danita Piepenburg, Kelly Johnson, and Michelle Melquist.

• approved a leave of absence for Rosa Trapp from Sept. 4, 2012 to Sept. 28, 2012; and for Jeremy Schmidt for the 2012-13 school year.

• approved the list of summer 2012 community education instructors.

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