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Colfax school board conducts September meeting

by Marlys Kruger

COLFAX – With nary a proposal that needed to be voted on, members of the Colfax School Board received updates by the administrators on what has been happening so far in their respective areas.

A complete list of all staff members was presented by District Administrator Bill Yingst which included teachers, administrators,instructional support staff, clerical staff, custodial staff, food service workers and bus drivers along with the school nurse, safety patrol, bus mechanic and technology technician. At this time, the only positions that need to be filled are for  varsity baseball and assistant softball coaches.

ACT test scores show the 2015 district composite average to be 21.5 compared to the state average of 22.2. A total of 36 students took the test from the district with 48,738 students taking it throughout the state.

The Department of Public Instruction notified Yingst the district has met the requirements of Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Yingst and his staff are to be commended for this achievement.

During the new business portion of the meeting, the board discussed reviewing and prioritizing the needs of the district for the future. Several new construction and/ or remodeling projects will have to be looked at since parts of the building are very old and need to be replaced.

“The annex that is used for Early Childhood and elementary art was added on over 30 years ago and was suppose to be temporary,” Yingst said. “The Middle School locker rooms were built well over 50 years ago and the bus garage was built in the 1950s I believe. All of these areas are something that eventually will have to be fixed or replaced. We would like to get some community input to find out what they believe will make our school better. With schools receiving less funding from the state to do capital projects, it is important to get some feedback,” he added. Yingst will begin the process by talking to several professionals who deal with surveys and building analysis.

Middle school/high school principal John Dachel showed the board a proposal to have three classes at the high school considered for weighted status. Several classes are already weighted which means they are graded on a 15 point scale for a student’s grade point average rather than the traditional 12 point scale. The classes he would like to see added include Microsoft Office which would be taught by Mrs. Zutter, Horticulture, taught by Mr. Nelson and Medical Terminology taught by Mrs. Neuburg. Students completing the Microsoft Office and Horticulture courses would earn college credit and it is hoped by next year the Medical Terminology course will also be available for a college credit.

“As a parent who has someone in college, I can tell you that every college credit earned before they get to college saves a lot of money,” board member Todd Kragness said. The board will consider the proposal and look at it in the future.

Dachel also presented two Alternative Diploma Options including a GEDO II program for students who are “at risk” which are students who need more credits to graduate than are available to them by the time their graduating class graduates. The other option is a Basic Skills Diploma which is for students who fall one semester behind their graduating class at any point during or after their sophomore year. Students in this program would need 21 total credits as opposed to the 24 credits other students need to graduate, and although they would receive a Colfax High School diploma, their transcript will reflect that they completed an alternative program. Board members will look at the proposals for the next board meeting.

A list of all activities for the next month shows homecoming week begins Sept. 28 and there will be a bonfire and FFA food stand Tuesday night after the volleyball game against Durand. The football game will take place Friday night against Mondovi with the coronation of king and queen taking place at 10:00 during the dance. Parent-teacher conferences will take place Oct. 8 from 4-8:00 p.m. and Oct. 15 from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. The grades 7-12 fall concert is Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 7:00 in the high school gym. Dachel informed the board Colfax had been selected for the Dunn-St. Croix sportsmanship award for the past season. Conduct by  coaches,students and parents during all sporting events is evaluated and schools are required to achieve a score below 1.4 to be recognized. Colfax scored 1.37 which was the best in the conference.

Elementary principal Trevor Hovde gave updates on the Accelerated Reader program as well as the Dibels and PALS benchmark testing and the Star Math assessment. Apple pies will again be made by elementary students with help from high school students under the direction of Mrs. Neuburg to be given to all veterans at the annual Veterans Day program in November. On Oct. 23 a Color Run will take place at the school involving all students as part of a Positive Behavior Intervention reward program. All bus routes have been reviewed and should be set at this point, according to Hovde who is the transportation director for the district.

Special Education Director/Assessment Coordinator Polly Rudi stated enrollment for special education is up by 13 students this year with a current count of 131 for grades K-12. The current count for English Language Learners is at eight, an increase of two from a year ago. The first Special Education parent gathering will be at an open house on Oct. 15 during parent-teacher conferences and Teri Ruff will be the new parent liaison this year, replacing Nancy Hovde.