Braham moves to aid student progress, summer projects

The Braham School Board met July 15 to address school summer projects and how the district can equip students with continuous growth in learning.

Braham Area Elementary School Principal Jeff Eklund shared that all of the rooms have been waxed and sealed so that teachers are able to start organizing their classrooms for the 2013-2014 school year.

Eklund also talked of his visit to the University of Minnesota on June 19 to discuss a computer-based assessment tool, the Formative Assessment System for Teachers. These assessments are able to provide instant feedback on student progress and help teachers identify areas for improvement.

“I feel that we have good enough teachers where we can get a snapshot of it with this assessment and still have an option to do a longer assessment. … Tests like this will give them some credibility to what they think is going on in the classroom,” said Eklund.

The FAST assessments are feasible and would cost $4 per pupil versus the $13 per pupil that is currently spent to administer the paper-based Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress testing. FAST testing would replace MAP testing and reading probes and save time. FAST assessments take between 5-15 minutes compared to 45 minutes for a MAP test. This would allow teachers to spend more time in instruction rather than in evaluation.

Deans of Summer Programming Shane Monson and Craig Kotsmith provided a report on summer programs.

“I think both socially and academically, it was very successful,” Kotsmith said.

Twenty summer school students were able to have lessons in science, social studies, language arts and math.

Superintendent Gregory Winter spoke on the importance of offering summer programming for students who have more difficulty during the course of the school year.

“This is where we need to go in the future; we need to continue to support these kids through the summer so they don’t get behind and lose those skills.”

Winter also summarized the progress of summer renovation projects. Roofing at the high school is expected to be completed within a week. A new security camera system is being installed in the elementary school, and improvements to the north wall of the high school gym are completed.

Winter also approved fencing projects to improve security measures. A gate will be installed on the east side of the elementary school and at the baseball field. LED lighting will be installed in the parking lot, and an electrical box that burnt out, which had caused school to close early, will be replaced.

In other action on the board: 

•The board moved to consider the health and safety policy as it currently exists. The policy seeks to provide students with a safe, effective learning environment by complying with Minnesota regulatory agencies.

•The board also moved to accept new employment recommendations: Lauren Amundson, special education; Marsha Applequist, special education; Kara Fraki, art; Karen Prigge,  special education; Marlys Carlson, evening cleaner sweeper, and Connie Gelle, superintendent’s secretary.

•Membership in the Central Minnesota Resource Training and Solutions services was approved for a total fee of $2,866.92 for the 2013-2014 school year. The service offers training and programs to staff in areas like special education, grant assistance and educational effectiveness.

•Renewal of a membership with Infinity Online was approved for the 2013-2014 school year. Infinity Online offers online courses to students in general education areas like physics and math. These classes are taken on-site at Braham Area High School and help to alleviate scheduling conflicts and provide students with additional educational opportunities. The membership costs $1,750.