The Milbank School District Board of Education met in regular session Monday, December 12. They approved adding an additional half time paraprofessional position at Koch School.
“The primary reason is due to several high needs students at Koch Elementary,” explained Superintendent Tim Graf. “Our special education child count has increased from 130 to 140.”
Another discussion involved the merits of beginning a summer program aimed at stopping summer regression and promoting academic growth over the summer. “Research and logic states that a two and half to three year gap exists by the fifth grade between mid to low income students,” Graf said. “It is impossible to close that gap without a plan or program.”
The program would most likely run six to eight weeks, three days a week, for two to three hours during the summer. “We are not exactly sure what this would look like and do not know the interest level, but we feel this is worth exploring.”
The board agreed moving forward in researching the program. “Our first step is surveying families to obtain the level of interest. We will also research if there is a model we could use to build on or a way to enhance programs such as MAYA and OST in the summer.”
The board also discussed adding pole vault as a track and field event at Milbank High School. Previous discussions included the Ortonville School District and the possibility of Milbank athletes using the pole vault facilities there. “We verified we can name Ortonville as an insured for $50. Poles also must be purchased, which run between $200 to $500 per pole. Helmets would also be a required purchase.”
Head track coach Eric Townsend held a meeting to gauge the interest of the athletes in the district. “Twenty-seven students attended the meeting and showed interest in the event.” The item will probably be placed on the agenda as an action item in January or February.
The board reviewed the status of the general fund for the first time in the current fiscal year. “Although it is early in the year, we are spending at essentially the same rate as a year ago. In FY 16, we spent 32.18% of our budgeted expenditures by the end of November, and we are currently at 31.50%. Our cash reserves also remain adequate.”
Graf gave an overview on issues resulting from the state budget address and legislative session. “As you have likely heard, the Governor proposed a 1% increase in the formula for K-12 education in his annual budget address. This is somewhat of a surprise as many people were speculating the statutory inflation increase of 0.36% as called for in the law.” When the teacher compensation package was passed last year, it was passed with the intent that salaries would be looked at again after three years and compared to neighboring states.
Graf also explained the outcome of the state superintendent’s meeting on December 7. “Although there will likely be many other education bills this session, it is also probable that education will not get the attention it did last year,” Graf said. “The topics garnering the most discussion are the new juvenile justice changes, categorical aid, two-year averaging, and public school exemptions.”
The board gave approval for out-of-state travel for the Fargo Shanley Debate tournament, the second reading of policy DIE, and the combined city and school election on June 20, 2017. Milt Stengel’s school board seat will be up for re-election.
The next regular meeting of the board of education is scheduled for Monday, January 9, at 6 p.m.