Rockford School Board again splits vote concerning vice chair

The Rockford School Board meeting Feb. 15 began and ended with 3-3 splits vote for the Vice Chair position.

This was the fourth and fifth time the vote ended with a split, with the same board members voting for the same candidates. New members Kevin Campbell, Amy Edwards, and Jessica Johnson all voted for nominated member Amy Edwards, and all returning members from the 2016 Board (Chuck Tryon, Lia Hall, and Ted Botten) voted for nominated member Lia Hall.

New members Campbell and Johnson explained an elected Edwards to vice chair would allow a new perspective in the mix; returning member Botten argued that it’s important the vice chair has the necessary experience to perform any duties.

As the issue is yet undetermined, the school board is expected to continue trying to fill the position, although vice chair is not considered a vital position.

OPEN ENROLLMENT

In other news, an item in the consent agenda addressed a public concern from the Jan. 26 meeting. Two parents of an open-enrolled Rockford high school student came forward to speak for both themselves and their son. The student had no choice but to enroll part-time, splitting high school with remedial classes to make up for lost learning due to a medical issue.

Unfortunately, Rockford Area Schools do not permit an open-enrolled student to be shared-time enrollment.

While his parents plan to have him enrolled full-time by the next school year, they asked the school board if some sort of exception could be made so he wouldn’t have to relocate schools to complete this school year, such as nullifying the rule after so many years of attending schools in the district.

Rockford High School looked at the request, and recommended that the School Board consider the student in question’s eligibility for a medical waiver. The student must have been enrolled as a full-time student prior to the medical condition; proffer a written statement from a doctor indicating the student is unable to attend school due to physical disability/illness; register with the resident district as home schooling.

The Board approved the waiver. It was noted at the meeting that the waiver is not precedent-setting, and future issues will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The parents said their son had chosen Rockford in sixth grade because of his interest in Rockford Middle School- Center for Environmental Studies’ commitment to the STEM fields.

It was also heard from high school principal Matthew Scheidler that despite previous discussion, he will not be proposing a daily schedule change for the 2017-18 school year. The high school had formed a committee and consulted students and staff to possibly modify the current trimester schedule, but Scheidler said he and staff were not prepared to make any major decisions yet, citing “too many unknowns.”

Superintendent Paul Durand spoke on the levity of the issue; After a trial year with a new daily schedule, future modifications brings on a host of issues in terms of logistics and credit transfers. If the schedule is fine tuned from year to year, tech support will be needed to ensure that the value of a course credit remains consistent.

New Business

Under new business, Peter Grimm, Director of Teaching and Learning, proposed the new Achievement and Integration plan and budget. Both pieces were approved by the Board and will take effect July of this year until June 30, 2020. The plan is required by the State of Minnesota, and must align with the district’s preexisting World’s Best Workforce plan and all federal, state, and local ordinances.

The first goal in the plan is to increase state reading test proficiency rates from 68.2 percent to 74.2 percent by 2020. This includes decreasing reading proficiency gaps between white and protected class students, and between First-year Retention Program (RFP) students and non-RFP students.

The second goal is similar: to increase state math test proficiency rates from 66.4 percent to 72.4 percent by 2020, and also reduce gaps between the aforementioned students.

The final goal is to increase the percent of graduates from Rockford Area Schools enrolling in post-secondary programs from the 2013-15 rate of 75 percent to 81 percent by 2020. To achieve this, college readiness programs like AVID will be utilized, and efforts will begin to create a new magnet school program within the district.

The full plan may be accessed at the School Board web page under Board Agendas and Packets.

In other news, the board:

APPROVED open enrollments and donations;

APPROVED the proposed Staff Development Goals despite concerns that many of the goals are hard to quantify or show that they are being achieved. They agreed to hear future updates on the achievement of the stated goals;

APPROVED budget revisions and prepared by Sandy Strozyk, along with an audit proposal from CliftonLarsonAllen.