Kim Ukura has served as the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune since August 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 2008 with degrees in English and journalism. She earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2010. Prior to returning to Morris to work at the Sun Tribune, she worked in trade publishing.
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MORRIS - Analyzing data and coming up with a clear-cut message for what it means about students can be a tricky business. All three administrators in the Morris Area School District - Superintendent Scott Monson, High School Principal Mike Coquyt and Elementary School Principal Brad Korn - cautioned that different tests from different years comparing different groups of students can be hard to summarize into a simple, single-paragraph assessment about how Morris Area students are performing.
MORRIS - When Morris Area choir director John Kleinwolterink first heard a choral arrangement of "Lamentations of Jeremiah," a musical interpretation of the Book of Lamentations, he didn't like it and didn't think it would work for his students. After borrowing the music to try with a group, Kleinwolterink said he's found that students are really drawn to the piece, which challenges them to express emotion through the notes rather than through the lyrics - the piece is written in Latin. "It's exciting to hear that even I can learn something," said Kleinwolterink.
In part two of our three part series about assessments and standardized tests in the Morris Area School District, we'll explore how data from various assessments are currently used in the district and how they might be used in the future. MORRIS - Throughout the year, students in the Morris Area School District take a variety of state- and district-wide tests designed to assess student progress. Students finished their first round of a new assessment tool, Measures of Academic Progress, in October and will repeat the tests in January and May.
MORRIS - Big changes to the property tax system earlier this year left local officials certain taxes were going to go up, but unsure about by how much and who would pay the most. Now that the more than 7,000 Truth in Taxation notices have been mailed out in Stevens County, residents have a better idea of what their tax burden for next year will be.
MORRIS - Although distracted drivers and high speeds haven't caused any serious accidents in front of the elementary school and high school, safety concerns prompted the Morris Police Department to take a proactive approach in the form of dynamic speed signs along the road. The two signs, sitting on Columbia Avenue between South Street and Green River Road, were purchased with leftover money from a federal Safe Routes to School grant and have, so far, helped slow drivers in the area.
MORRIS - What can the Morris Area School District do to take a stronger stance against bullying? That was one question posed by Cali Lebrija, a parent of seven children who are attending or will be attending school in the district, during the visitor comments time during the School Board's meeting on Monday night. Lebrija told the board she was concerned about what she sees as an increase in bulling, particularly at the high school, citing instances she's seen or heard about related to name-calling, pushing and stolen backpacks.
MORRIS - The Morris Area School Board received a clean audit and good news about the district's financial status at their meeting Monday night; however, delays in state aid payments may leave the district - and all other districts across the state - with cash flow challenges going forward, explained Brian Stavenger, a certified public accountant and partner with Eide Bailly, during his presentation of the firm's annual audit.
I have never had to travel far for Thanksgiving. When I was a kid, all of my grandparents and most of my extended family lived within a 45 minute drive from our house. I got to spend every major holiday with at least one side of the family and was always home that night to sleep in my own bed. Although I didn't realize it at the time, that was quite the luxury. As I got older, my extended families have started to spread out, slowly morphing our holiday traditions to fit more and more complex schedules.
MORRIS - Over an eleven day window in October, students in first through eighth grade each spent between two and three hours in school computer labs, working on tests to measure reading, math and language usage. They'll all be in the labs two more times this year to take the tests again. In April, students across the school will take a series of state-mandated assessment tests with implications for school funding and their own graduation.
Snow removal across Stevens County will likely be stressful this winter after the County Highway Department adds snow removal in the City of Hancock and Framnas Township to its regular routes. Although no contracts have been signed, the Stevens County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to authorize County Engineer Brian Giese to enter into contracts for snow removal with both municipalities despite concerns about county staff and equipment. "We have to have realistic expectations about what your staff and your equipment can do," said Commissioner Paul Watzke.