The Morris Area School District staff welcomed 1,030 students to the first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 4. Student enrollment in grades K-12 exceeded our enrollment projections by 37 students, and this is the first time that the district's K-12 enrollment surpassed 1,000 students since the 2003-2004 school year. This year's enrollment gains are even more impressive considering there were less than 900 students attending at the end of the 2006-2007 school year. We have been able to accommodate the new students and families and are excited to help them become part of our school district.
We are pleased with the results for a variety of state measurements for the elementary school, high school, and school district including Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), student assessment results, and Multiple Measurements Rating (MMR). After not making Adequate Yearly Progress for three consecutive years, the high school and the school district met or exceeded all criteria established by the Minnesota Department of Education and made AYP during the 2011-2012 school year. This is a tribute to much hard work by our staff and the quality of our students and families.
Last year's student assessment results marked the third consecutive year that test scores trended upward. On nearly all assessments, Morris scores exceeded the state average in reading, math, and writing, including 100 percent of last year's 9th grade students passing the State Writing Assessment! While our test results are positive, we will continue to focus on how we can use the data - and other information - to make instructional improvements.
Finally, congratulations go out to Morris Elementary School's staff, students, and families on being recognized as a "Celebration Eligible" Title I school by the Minnesota Department of Education. Celebration Eligible Schools are in the 60th to 85th percentile of top performing schools based on their MMR. We will need to learn more about the application process, since MAES is eligible for celebration school designation.
The Morris Area School Board set aside $150,000 from the district's fund balance to begin addressing needs and improving technology in the district. After several internal discussions, much information gathering, and work by the Technology Committee, technology improvements are happening in the district. Various aspects of the district's technology infrastructure are being upgraded and revised to establish a foundation that will last several years.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Morris Area Public School Foundation and private donations, we plan to soon have interactive whiteboard systems (often referred to as SMART Boards) in all K-6 classrooms as well as several in the high school. Several of our staff members participated in training for the interactive white boards and they are excited about all the different things that can be done to increase student participation in lessons and motivate students to stay engaged. Private donations will also allow us to do an iPad Pilot Program in two elementary classrooms as we head in the direction of a possible one-to-one student device initiative.
As we enjoy the last fleeting moments of summer weather and start to see shorter days and cooler nights, please keep an eye out for students walking, biking, and driving around the school and as they go to and from school. These students may not be as focused on what is happening around them, so we adults have to keep an eye out for them. Thank you for your efforts keeping all of our students safe as they come to school in the morning and go home at the end of the day.
We will continue to do all we can to reach our vision of becoming the finest school district in western Minnesota as we move into the 2012-2013 school year. If you have questions or need more information about the Morris Area School District, please contact Scott Monson at 589-4840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.