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Morris will be home to District #2769 beginning July 1

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news Morris, 56267

Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

MORRIS – Starting on July 1, 2013, Morris will be home to Independent School District #2769, the newly-consolidated Morris Area School District.

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In the weeks leading up to the official consolidation, staff in both districts have been working to make the transition a smooth one.

“We're looking forward to the transition into our new school district next year,” Superintendent Scott Monson told the Morris Area School Board Monday during an update on the consolidation.

The Morris Area School District purchased about $5,500 worth of equipment, furniture, instructional materials, curriculum and supplies from the new owners of the Cyrus School Building, Monson said.

Thirty of the 33 students in Cyrus spent time in Morris on Tuesday, May 28. Students were picked up in Cyrus at 10:30 and came to Morris for class, lunch and recess.

The school board for district 2769 will meet on Monday, June 24 at 8 p.m. in the Morris Area High School Auditorium for their reorganization meeting.

At the meeting, the 13-member school board will elect a chair, vice chair and clerk; approve a list of meeting dates and times; approve salaries; and approve school board committee and representative assignments.

Over time, the school board will be reduced to seven members. According to the reduction plan approved by the Minnesota Secretary of State, the board will be reduced to nine members after the 2014 election and seven members after the 2016 election.

District students phenomenal on tests

Students in first through eighth grades performed “phenomenally” during the second year of a new testing program, Morris Area Elementary School Principal Ken Gagner told the school board on Monday.

The district goal was for all grade levels to meet or exceed the projected growth targets in reading, math and language arts. Gagner said the district focused on growth because it is important all students, from high achieving students to students who struggle, improve over the course of the year.

“The results are phenomenally good. I can't believe they're this good,” said Ganger.

This year, six of eight grades met or exceeded their growth targets in reading, all grades met or exceeded growth targets in math, and five of seven grades met or exceeded growth targets in language arts. And in all three areas, student growth was above the national norm.

Gagner credited the work being done by teachers and support staff in the building for the high scores.

“The only thing that scares me about this is that there's not a whole lot higher you could go. We've set the bar incredibly high,” he said.

This is the second full year that students in first through eighth grades have taken the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA). The tests measure student growth over the year, then compare that growth to national averages.

But Gagner also cautioned that these results were just one test and just one way to measure student achievement.

“When we look at the final product, we see our seniors leaving the building, there's a lot more than just test scores,” said Gagner.

Other business

• The board approved an insurance quote from EMC for approximately $132,750 for 2013. The premium is about $12,000 more than 2012 because the district's worker's compensation premium increased significantly, Amy Swanson of BW Insurance Agency told the board.

• The board approved hiring Kristofer Rittenour as a full-time speech language pathologist and Seth Kelly as a full-time English teacher.

• At the recommendation of Technology Director Stephen Lien, the board voted to terminate the district's contract with Info-Link and hire a part-time technology assistant. The previous arrangement with Info-Link cost the district about $22,200 per year, while hiring an assistant should cost about $16,500 per year.

• The board approved a resolution that would allow the district to put a referendum in front of voters this fall, if they choose to do so. During the legislative session, the legislature approved a freeze on operating levies unless districts approve a resolution on the issue. Both Monson and Gartland emphasized that they don't intend to seek a referendum, but the board approved the resolution as a precaution.  

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