I am typing this on Thursday, May 30 and commencement for the Morris Area High School Class of 2013 is tomorrow. I have mixed feelings about graduation each year – I am excited about the futures and opportunities our graduates have in front of them, yet it also means the halls will be [relatively] empty of people and all the excitement that I get to be a small part of each day won’t happen for three months.
As you may be aware, the Minnesota Legislature finished their work on time and adjourned the legislative session on May 20. We are learning more about several items the legislature included in the E-12 Education Omnibus Bill that will affect us in 2013-2014 and beyond. Schools received a 1.5 percent funding increase for 2013-2014 and the same increase for 2014-2015, so we know that we have approximately $90,000 of revenue each year for the next two years. All day, every day kindergarten funding was approved for all school districts, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year. We offered all day, every day kindergarten for several years through a monthly fee to families, and it is exciting to be able to give this option to families free of charge in September 2014.
Formal consolidation of the Morris and Cyrus School Districts will be official on July 1, 2013. The final steps in the consolidation process were recently completed and submitted to the Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota Secretary of State. We are currently waiting on a new number for our school district, which is the “official” notification that we are a newly consolidated district. We requested being district #2769 and we hope the Department of Education is able to allow us to use that number.
I admit to being a bit of a data freak – I like math/accounting, I enjoy working with numbers, and I like figuring out what data means and how to use it as part of a decision making process. Students in grades 1-8 recently completed their spring assessments in math, reading, language usage, writing, and science. Some of the test results are available, yet we are waiting on others. Our district utilizes a student assessment program called Measures of Academic Progress – or MAP – to assess student progress in the fall, winter, and spring. The overarching goal of using MAP is to have periodic updates on what each student is doing well on, what they may need some extra assistance on, and how well each grade is doing in general. This spring’s MAP results in math, reading, and language usage look very good. I feel the positive results are indicative of three important things – 1) the approach students take when doing the assessments, 2) the work all of our staff (especially those who work directly with the students) do on a daily basis, and 3) the efforts that parents put forth helping their children be successful in school and life.
Once the talented class of 2013 walks across the stage and all the graduation open houses are over, it is time to continue work to prepare for a successful 2013-2014 school year. If you have questions about something or wish for additional information, feel free to contact me. I can be reached at (320) 589-4840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.