BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN For kindergarten through fourth-grade students, the school year will start two days later than for their counterparts in other grades.
Rather than regular school days, Monday, Aug. 29, and Tuesday, Aug. 30, will be orientation days for those grades, according to the amended school calendar the Delano School Board approved Feb. 22.
Each student will need to be signed up for a 30-minute orientation during one of those days.
“This 30-minute orientation will allow your child’s teacher to conduct a short reading assessment, as well as have time to meet with you to talk more specifically about your child’s social, emotional, and academic needs for the upcoming school year,” Delano Elementary School Principal Darren Schuler and Assistant Principal John McDonald wrote in a letter that will be sent to parents. “As in the past, you will also be able to drop off school supplies and other essential items to begin the year.”
The new format will replace the two-hour open house, during which students could meet their teachers and drop off school supplies.
“This format did not allow for individual time with the classroom teacher or time for the teacher to get to know the child and parent in a private setting,” Schuler and McDonald wrote.
In addition to meeting with the classroom teacher, students will have their pictures taken by Zahler Photography; have their hearing and vision tested if in kindergarten, first grade, or third grade; and complete the required school bus safety education program.
Parents will learn about volunteer orientation requirements, receive information about Skyward Parent Access, and be able to speak with the school nurse and office staff.
Schuler and McDonald believe the new format will save instructional time from not having to administer the reading assessment in September and from not having to complete “housekeeping items” such as pictures, bus safety requirements, and vision and hearing tests, which have been historically completed during the first few weeks of school.
They also said the new format would provide teachers more one-on-one time with students and parents, current data on student performance on the first day of school, and a background on student needs and parent concerns in advance of the school year.
Potential concerns include students not being in attendance the first two days of school, the required time commitment for parents, and the time commitment for teachers to prepare for orientation days.
“What if there are parents who are unable to go during the school day? Is there an option for those parents?” board member Carolyn Milano asked during a workshop.
“For our first year, we’re going to keep it close to the regular school day,” Schuler said. “We’re going to get feedback through a survey at the end to see if those times were beneficial for parents.”
He said teachers would likely be flexible to fit in appointments after the regular school hours, but noted staff was concerned about teacher and student fatigue if the orientation went until 8 p.m., for example, followed by the first day of school. He also referenced a similar setup at Rockford Area Schools, where 20 or fewer of the 550 students missed orientation.
Students who miss the orientation would need to be assessed during the first week of school, Schuler said.
Odds and ends
During the regular meeting, the board:
• approved Delano High School Assistant Principal Joe Vieau’s resignation from that position, effective June 30, and approved him as director of teaching and learning, effective July 1. Other personnel matters include the resignation of high school math teacher Jacqueline Currier, effective June 8; and the hiring of Chris Runke as Community Education youth development coordinator, effective Feb. 17.
• approved the sale of a rental home for $5,210 to Tony Socher, who will move the house, and two other buildings, from district property within 30 days.
• approved the first read of the following policies due to substantive and/or legal reference changes: Policy 104-School District Mission Statement, Policy 404-Employment Background Checks, Policy 412-Expense Reimbursement, Policy 510-School Activities, Policy 511-Student Fundraising, Policy 512-School-Sponsored Student Publications, Policy 517-Student Recruiting, Policy 519-Interviews of Students by Outside Agencies, Policy 606-Textbooks and Instructional Materials, Policy 611-Home Schooling, and Policy 903-Visitors to School District Buildings and Sites.
• approved an application for a 2016-17 girls hockey cooperative sponsorship between Delano and Rockford schools.
• approved the following donations: $2,171 from the Gymnastics Booster Club for new mats, plus about $1,062 for booster-paid coaches; $1,529 from the Wrestling Booster Club for a middle school booster-paid coach; $1,500 from Middle School PIE for a Winter Activity Day bus, plus about $149 for a cookie dough pizza party; $1,400 from Delano Tiger Dance for a booster-paid assistant coach; $500 from MEADA for Compass; and about $318 from the Boys Baseball Booster Club for a charter bus.