My annual fishing trip to Canada marks the "unofficial transition" into the next school year for me. Since that trip has come and gone, it is time to start gearing up for the first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Much has been happening over the past few months in the school district, and I am excited to welcome staff and students back into the building!
We recently received the results of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments that our students took this past winter/spring. I am very happy that our students, parents, and staff continue to take these tests seriously, as evidenced by the fact that there were only three students out of nearly 500 participating who did not take one or more of the assessments. Since participation is one of the areas that are measured for Adequate Yearly Progress, we certainly met AYP in this area with flying colors. While our scores consistently remain above state and local average, there continues to be opportunities for improvement. Determining what changes will bring about improved learning, better test scores, and ultimately more well-education students, is necessary and will be a focus during the upcoming school year - striving for continuous improvement is also something we owe to our students, parents, and community.
There was a recent law change that I would like to pass along information about - it is the New Booster Seat Law. Minnesota children under age 8 or shorter than 4-feet-9 inches tall must be in a child safety seat or booster seat. This change became effective on July 1, 2009. Under the booster law, children cannot use a seat belt alone until they are age 8 or 4-feet-9 inches tall -- whichever comes first. To ensure child safety, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety recommends parents keep children in a booster based on their height, rather than their age. Booster seats lift a child up, allowing for proper seat belt fit -- the lap belt low and snug across the hips and the shoulder belt snug across the middle of the chest. Typically children around age 4 and more than 40 pounds are ready for a booster, upon outgrowing a forward-facing child safety seat. The DPS reports only 30 percent of Minnesota children use boosters. In the last five years in Minnesota, 2004-2008, 18 children passengers ages 4-8 were killed in crashes and 3,047 were injured. Child passenger safety officials say the importance of boosters is underscored by death and injuries associated with poor seat belt fit -- including ejection, internal decapitation, and serious abdominal damage. The DPS has additional materials available at www.buckleupkids.state.mn.us -- including a flier explaining the law, frequently asked questions and more.
Due to larger than anticipated enrollment projections, the Morris Area School Board recently approved adding the equivalent of two full-time elementary teachers for this coming school year. Although we are finalizing all the details and putting people in positions, this is a good challenge to have. In addition to filling the elementary positions, we have been busy interviewing and hiring for other positions - we have an excellent group of new staff members who will join our exceptional staff.
I hope to see you at the Districtwide Open House from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 27. Please enjoy what is left of the summer!