NPHS will change schedule in 2014-15

Students and staff can expect some changes in the schedule at New Prague High School for the 2014-15 school year.

            Principal Lonnie Seifert has been working with staff members exploring possible changes in the school’s delivery system. Currently, the district uses a five-period, three-trimester system. He told members of the New Prague Area School Board during their workshop meeting Tuesday, Oct. 15, that he believes that needs to change.

            “We’re looking at the students’ ACT scores and they are not acceptable,” Seifert said. He believes part of the reason for the low scores is that students are hampered by a schedule that allows them to go up to five or six months without some of the core classes, such as math.

            “The way the system is set up now, a student could have math in the first and second trimesters one year, then not have it again until the second trimester of the following year. That’s going from March to December without any math classes. which makes retention difficult.”

            Seifert, who became principal in July after five years as assistant principal at the school, said he started looking at several options, including a four-period block schedule, with four periods a day, and semester systems using a six-period day, a “six-plus zero-hour” schedule, with optional classes offered before school, and a traditional seven-period day.

            He told board members he had been working with department heads to look at different schedules and toured different schools. He expects to share with school staff as early as next week what direction he expects to take.

            “The staff has some concerns, specially in electives,” he said, noting that they are worried about staffing. He said whatever decision is made, he doesn’t expect there to be a significant change in staffing needs. 


Strategic Plan

            Superintendent Tim Dittberner, and three members of the district’s administrative team, Finance Director Sandy Linn, Community Services Director Janelle Kirsch and Education Service Director Tony Buthe, went over portions of the district’s strategic plan that was adopted in 2010, and looked at how the district has progressed in terms of goals that were set three years ago. Each talked about how the district has worked at achieving those goals and how the goals may need to be adapted for the future. Board members will discuss the findings at a future board meeting.


Kindergarten decision

            Dittberner briefed board members on the process they will need to take in order to make a decision on changing to all day-every day kindergarten. The Minnesota Legislature voted last spring to fully fund such a program beginning in 2014-15. The process will include parent surveys, informational meetings, presentations to the board by principals and teachers, and a study on the financial impact of making the move. Dittberner said he would expect the board to make a decision in late January or early February, with kindergarten registration set for late February.


Stadium update

            Dittberner told board members that he, Buildings and Grounds Director Craig Most and Activities Director Brad Skogerboe were part of a group that met with architects to discuss the renovation of the district’s athletic stadium. They expect to have a drawing of the plan available soon. The new stadium will have a high-level synthetic turf, a wider field so it can be utilized for soccer, a 9-lane track, and improved drainage and lighting. He also said the district would be looking for sponsorships for a new scoreboard and would be using its own staff to build a new press box and to install new fencing.