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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Board Beefs Up Literacy Staff, Holds On Credits

After a busy December, Marinette Schools, including school offices, are closed from now until Wednesday morning, Jan. 2, 2013.

At their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, Dec. 18, the school board accepted the resignation of Shirley Aderman as a paraprofessional at the Middle School, effective Saturday, Dec. 22; High School Social Studies teacher Randy Koehn effective at the end of the first semester, and Elementary Phy Ed teacher Linda Perkins, effective Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Board members present were Cindy Bailey, Brian Ceranski, Richard O’Farrell, Lisa Michiels, Lee Kuntz, and President John LaCourt.

By unanimous vote they approved graduation requirements and high school course offerings as recommended by the Curriculum Committee, with one exception. The board declined, for now at least, to approve a committee recommendation that would have added a requirement for a third science credit, effective for the graduating class of 2017.

They approved increased staffing for the Title I Early Intervention Literacy program at the three elementary schools at a cost of not more than $72,000, with money to come from the Title 1A grant. There will be a new Tier 2 reading intervention teacher and up to three new Early Intervention Specialists, one for each of the three elementary schools. The hope is that by improving the early intervention program for students in kindergarten through fourth grade reading difficulties will be resolved and less support will be needed in future years.

Several new courses were approved or next year, including two offered in partnership with NWTC that will provide students with both high school and college credits. There will be a class in “Leadership Theory and Practice,” and a new social studies class, “History of the United States,” that provides four college credits in addition to the high school credit toward graduation requirements. The tough course will mirror St. Norbert’s standards. Requirements include four MLA documented research papers and three debate reaction papers.

Several Technical Education courses are being revised and/or created to help train students for jobs that area employers sometimes have trouble filling.

A new program, “Second Chance Partners in Education,” was approved through which local businesses will partner with schools in Marinette, Peshtigo and Oconto to provide positive learning and career opportunities for “disengaged” high school juniors and seniors who are short of credits and have little hope of graduating from a traditional high school setting.

Each of the three school will have an opportunity to enroll up to four juniors the first year, and four additional juniors the second year for the two year program. Students, as juniors and seniors, will report to one of the participating businesses to receive their academic course work for two hours, and then learn applied manufacturing skills for the remainder of their 8-hour work day.

Board packets included several letters filled with praise for program results from businesses in other communities who participated in prior years. The school district will continue to receive state aid for each student involved, even though they will receive 100 percent of their academic and technical education at a regional business site. Success rates were very high in other districts, the board was told. Program Director is Brooke Konopacki.

The board approved hiring Autumn Bickle for a 60 percent position as School Nurse. She will work 65 days in the 2012-13 school year. In recommending Bickle for the position, Student Services Director Cindy Russell Smith stated she has the skill set and experience that makes her an excellent candidate for the position, and added, “Due to her earlier “rotation” at our district during her course work she knows many of the staff already as well as the job expectations.” She said Bickle comes highly recommended by her colleagues and other professionals in her field and predicted she will be a great asset for the district.

The board accepted donations of $500 each for the High School and Middle School from the Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program.

They also accepted a donation of dictionaries from the local Elks Lodge, one for each of the district’s third graders.

The district’s Joint Pool Maintenance Agreement with the local YMCA to operate the pool on on the Marinette High School school campus was renewed through Dec. 31, 2013.

An additional coaching position for 7th grade girls basketball was approved, but so far no one has been selected to fill it.

Trips were approved for the Middle School Personal Budgeting class to visit the Mall of America, the High School Girls Basketball team to attend a Milwaukee Bucks game, and a ski trip to Bessemer and Ironwood, Mich., for members of the High School’s Ski/Snowboard Club. Trip expenses for the ski trip will be paid by the students or from proceeds of fund raising events in their activity fund.

First Reading of several board policies were presented for board consideration and study, but no action is expected on them until next month.

Policies to be considered include one requiring pay for substitutes if they are not notified that the assignment has been canceled, some removing reference to collective bargaining restrictions on the board for hiring, leave of absence approvals, etc., and changing the date for the annual audit to meet deadlines that may be set by the state Department of Public Instruction.

Middle School Principal Shawn Limberg reported the 21st Community Learning Center at Marinette Middle School is planning to open a LEGO Mindstorm Lab. LEGO Mindstorms are LEGO Robots that students build and program, and are heavily anchored in “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. He expressed thanks to Mrs. Lynn Francour for heading up the new CLC offering.

He also thanked Leslie Nemmers and Darilyn Klein for attending an ”Act Now” Bullying Prevention training program in Oshkosh in November.

The MMS Drama Club hosted a “Drama Fun Night” on Thursday, Nov. 29. Drama students entertained family and friends with skits, individual dramatic performances and a one act play. Limberg thanked instructor Paul Okray for the drama opportunities he provides to MMS students.

Okray and the World Drumming Ensemble have been busy in the kitchen baking hundreds of pet treats for the annual World Drumming Ensemble Pet Treat Fundraiser.

The Middle School Student Council raised about $50 for the Secret Angel Drive through a “Chain Link Fundraiser”. The MMS Student Council also rang bells for the Salvation Army at Curry Foods, and sponsored a Candy Cane Sale this week with proceeds to be used to purchase socks for the MMS Harbor Room.

Limberg gave special thanks and recognition to Keith Schroeder, Sarah Johnston and Sue Drees who presented at the 2012 School Leaders Advancing Technology in Education (SLATE) Conference in Wisconsin Dells during the first week of December.

The Middle School Phy Ed. Staff - Tony LaMalfa, Jessie Scheer and Matt Hartin - organized a Racquet Dual Contest during the week of December 10th, Limberg said. Students could pay $1 to compete in a badminton match with a friend, or $2 to take on instructors LaMalfa or Hartin. All money was donated to a local charity.

He also thanked the entire Middle School staff who donated over $300 to the Secret Angel Campaign “simply by digging into their pockets and giving freely to the cause.”

He congratulated Ms. Michelle Dura and the 6th grade band who presented a Holiday Concert on Thursday, Dec. 13. “This was one of the best 6th grade band concerts that I have ever heard,” Limberg declared, adding that the band students should be very proud of their performance.

Thanks from Limberg also went to Bill Banks for “a very engaging professional development seminar” for Middle School staff on “Active Learning Strategies” during early release on Friday, Dec. 14.

Ms. Socha’s After School Art Club continues to grow, Limberg said, with about 50 students in grade 5 through 8 participating on regular basis. The Art Club was holding an “open house” during lunch and after school that week. Artwork ranging from ornaments to stationery, created by Art Club students is being sold during the “open houses”.

The Holiday Music Concert series wrapped up that night with a concert by 7th and 8th grade band and choirs. He extended congratulations to Pat Mallory and Ms. Bonnie Weydt and their students “for all of the hard work put into preparing for tonight’s concert.”

Middle School Wrestling practice had started earlier that day, and the 7/8 Boy’s Basketball Teams had completed about half their season, 7/8 Girls’ Basketball Teams were regularly practicing, with their first game scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 10.

The board had met in closed executive session on Monday, Dec. 17 for three student disciplinary hearings, but results, if any, were not made public. No action was announced and no action was taken in open session.

As usual, at 6:30 p.m., prior to the 7 p.m. regular meeting, the board went into closed executive session “to consider employment and compensation data of employees, to consider financial, medical, social or personnel histories or disciplinary data of specific persons, or preliminary con sideration of specific personnel problems.” No action was taken after return to open session.

In her report to the board, Russell Smith said there are currently 39 documented cases of homeless students in the district, and Amanda Jacobson and Kathy DeWitt have been working with these students and their families to set up tutoring, coordinate transportation with the Westlund Bus Company, and support them with basis provisions that promote success in school. She said they have in place five homeless student building representatives and 11 tutors. “The program is off to an effective start in reaching these students who are facing significant obstacles,” she said, as she commended the staff for their efforts.


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