School Board adds biology requirement for graduation

By Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

The New Prague Area School Board made quick work of its meeting Monday, Aug. 11, going through the entire agenda in less than an hour.

The agenda included a change in graduation requirements for incoming freshmen, approval of a contract for the Early Childhood Family Education Coordinator, approval to use Fund 16 for purchase of property and adoption of the coaches' handbook and several other policies.

The board also heard an enrollment update from Operations Director Tim Rybak.

Grad requirements

Beginning with this fall's freshman class (The Class of 2012), high school students will have to take biology in order to graduate.

At an earlier meeting, principal Tom Doig reported that the state will be requiring the class in the near future, and that much of what is included in the biology class is going to be tested in the Minnesota Comprehensive Exams for science. He said that adding the requirement for this year's freshmen would keep the district ahead of the state's mandates. Doig requested that the board approve the requirement at Monday's meeting so that freshmen attending orientation next week could be made aware of it. The board approved it on a 5-0 vote, with Dennis Havlicek and Dan Carlson absent.



Coaches handbook

Activities director Brad Skogerboe brought an updated coach's handbook to the board for approval. He went through the book and the board approved it.

Skogerboe also presented a list comparing activity fees charged by New Prague with those of other districts in the area. He said for the most part fees for New Prague were in the middle of the pack and didn't seem out of line.

Enrollment

Rybak reported that the latest figures for enrollment indicate the district is slightly ahead of the estimated enrollment figures used when developing this year's budget. Numbers are up by five in K-5, by 21 in the middle school and down by three in the high school. Board members asked for another update at the August 25 meeting, which is the last meeting before the school year begins.

Before the meeting, Tammy Kerlow, a parent at Eagle View Elementary, expressed concern about class sizes for the second grade at that school. Currently there are four teachers and slightly more than 100 students, meaning an average class size of 25 students per class.

Board chair Bob Reed said that the board was aware of the situation and was waiting for final numbers before deciding whether to hire an additional teacher. Superintendent Craig Menozzi said the district was monitoring the numbers.

Rybak also asked for and received permission to use the district's Fund 16 for purchase of the Borkowski property north of the Central Education Campus and west of the middle school. The district is still negotiating with representatives of Mrs. Borkowski, and any agreement would still require school board approval.

Superintendent's report

Menozzi gave a report to board members. He said he attended an RTI retreat in St. Paul, with a large number of New Prague teachers in attendance. RTI is an early intervention program that will be implemented by all three elementary schools in the district this year.

Other items in his report:

• An automated sub calling system is being implemented by the district for the coming school year.

• The Community Education brochure is being finalized and should be ready for distribution after Labor Day.

• Menozzi reported that the New Prague High School Polka Band was recently taped for a national cable TV show, and has been invited to play at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul in September.

• In response to a parent's concern, a new system for kindergarten transportation will be implemented this year that will help kindergarten students become accustomed to buses and ensure that drivers let them off at the correct stops.

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