NEW ULM - District 88 will begin the 2012-13 school year with "a plateful of changes," covering "a wide range of topics," said Superintendent Harold Remme.
Parents will experience changes in start and dismissal times, daily schedule and personnel, in administrative assignments to classroom instructors, para educators, clerical personnel and food service personnel.
Daily schedule changes:
New Ulm High School will transition from a seven-period daily schedule to a six-period daily schedule. This change is being implemented to provide somewhat longer class periods and to incorporate a daily intervention time, with the goal of improving student achievement, said Remme.
Intervention time will allow more concentrated time for staff to work with students needing extension help as well as creating time for advanced learning, said Remme. Also incorporated into the high school day will be an "open lunch period" that will allow qualifying students in grades 11 and 12 to leave the school during the designated lunch period.
In turn, Washington Elementary School will incorporate more of a departmentalized approach to instruction in grades five and six, reported Remme. The change will begin to prepare students for the grade 7-12 daily schedule structure and also afford the opportunity for improving student achievement as teachers specialize in academic areas of strength, said Remme.
The parking lot at the main campus site on South Payne/Garden streets will feature paid parking in specified areas. Students who wish to park in the lot just off Garden Street may obtain a parking permit that will allow them to park in a designated area near the high school entrance by the gymnasium doors. During period of budget reductions, the school board frequently discussed the idea to implement a student parking fee as a source of revenue, and has now acted on it, explained Remme. More than 200 student parking stalls will be available at the main campus site.
Non-paid parking spaces will be available for staff and visitors.
All spaces will be designated by various colors painted for each designated area, Remme explained.
Administrative Personnel Changes:
Washington Elementary will have a new principal when the school year begins. The previous principal, Bill Sprung, will be assuming similar duties in the Montevideo school district.
Due to Sprung's late resignation, the district will fill the position with an interim principal. This means the person serving as principal for the 2012-13 school year will have a one-year assignment.
The explosion of technology applications for use in the classroom has resulted in the district making a decision to return to a full-time person in charge of technology, said Remme. For the past few years, the school district had attached technology directorship to other administrative assignments.
Effectively using technology as an instructional tool is a priority for District 88 as it prepares students for the future, said Remme.
Following 12 months of research and review regarding technology infrastructure improvements, the school district successfully obtained bids for installation of wireless connectivity in each of the instructional buildings, said Remme. The installation will be done in phases.
Phase one will be to complete installation at New Ulm High School. Phase two will be to complete installation at Washington Elementary School. Phase three will be to complete installation at Jefferson Elementary School. If all goes as planned, all instructional setting should be complete by Jan. 1, 2013, said Remme.
Another project that the school board has been exploring over the past year is the potential sale of the District Administrative Center (the former middle school).
A request-for-bids process resulted in the district working with one of the bidding parties to develop a purchase agreement for sale of the building, said Remme. A successful purchase agreement would result in the property ownership being transferred to a private entity, he said. This would result in the property being subject to property taxes.
The successful bidder intends to renovate parts of the building into housing units. The auditorium would remain as part of the structure for school and community use.
The District Administrative Center will continue to be operated by the school district until an acceptable purchase agreement can be reached with the potential buyer.
School board authorization has been given to include a levy referendum question on the Nov. 6 election ballot.
The dollar amount requested for additional local financial support equals $575 per pupil. This amount is $150 per pupil less than requested on the levy referendum ballot in 2011.
School Board Election:
Four positions on the seven-member school board will be open as of Jan. 1, 2013. Eight community residents have filed to have their name placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Board members serve four-year terms. New members will be elected in November but do not take office until after Jan. 1, 2013.