AURELIA - At Monday night's monthly meeting of the Aurelia School Board, the "Showcase on Education" featured the Accelerated Math program which the school's 5th - 7th grade students have been studying for the past seven weeks.
Their teacher, LeAnn Patton, explained the elements of the individualized program and distributed samples to Board members. Patton was familiar with the Accelerated Math program from her 10 years' experience in the Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn District, and was excited that the Aurelia District had chosen to provide the course to their students this year. She said the students have been very appreciative and excited about the course, which students take at an individualized pace from a computer software program. The course has three levels - practice objectives, tests (with "instant results" which the student can get by having his test paper scanned) and exercises. Patton said the program alerts her when students seem to need individual attention, and she works on the identified problem(s) with those students on a one-to-one basis, with mini-exercises.
The 8th grade students will begin working on the accelerated math soon, and the software the school purchased is capable of working with students from first grade to "pre-calculus" students.
In other business, Board members suggested possible new members for the School Improvement Advisory Committee, and these people will be contacted soon to assess their interest in serving on the SIAC.
Denise Nicodemus appeared before the Board to submit an Out-of-State Travel request for her thespians to attend a dinner theater performance of "Footloose" in Chanhassen, Minnesota - a one-day trip, probably on a Saturday in mid-March. This has been an annual tradition for the group, and the money they use for the play and other activities will be the responsibility of the students themselves, including funds they have raised thus far. The Board approved the request.
Grant Peckenschneider represented the Senior Class, that is also hoping to travel out-of-state for the Senior Trip next spring. The class's tentative plan is to go to Colorado and partake in activities similar to those that previous classes have done, such as Estes Park, canoeing, hiking, and an amusement park. The tentative dates are May 24 - 28, which would not interfere with school activities, and 25 of the 27 class members have indicated that they plan to go on the chaperoned trip. The Board approved Out-of-State travel for the Seniors, pending final details of the trip, which they are to present at the Board meeting on December 14.
In other business, the Board authorized Superintendent Lynn Evans to apply to the state for the maximum At-Risk Allowable Growth for the Aurelia District, an amount which would be approximately $80,000.
Principal Ann Sandine told the Board that the Parent/Teacher conferences held last week had 98% of elementary parents in attendance and 65% of Middle School and High School students. She hypothesized that that number may be lower because many of the latter group of parents have access to their students' grades online, but also said that the District does encourage parents to appear in person at the conferences. Sandine added that the Parent Teacher Organization provided baby-sitting services during the conferences again this year.
Sandine also reminded the Board of the Veteran's Day program at 11 a.m. today. The program is planned and conducted by the first semester government class, and veterans have special seating and are also the school's guests for a special lunch following the program.
Sandine also reminded Board members about the High School Dinner Theatre and Play this Friday night and Sunday afternoon; the Community Coffee at the school on November 18; the Fall Athletic Banquet on Nov. 23; the Elementary Music Program on Dec. 3 and the Middle School and High School Winter Concerts on December 7.
Sandine also reviewed the Annual Progress Report and Annual Yearly Progress Report which she sends to the state. She stated that the elementary students' scores were a little ahead of the average Iowa students scores, and the high school scores were a little lower than the school would like, but also advised that average scores in a small school can sometimes be misleading, with even one above or below average score "throwing things off."
In other business, the Board approved Superintendent Evans submitting the Aurelia District's intent to share with the Alta District to the state Athletic Association. He will also ask the state for an extension beyond the December 1 deadline for football re-districting to allow the districts to work out details before the sharing agreement is formally accepted. Evans anticipated that this won't be a problem.
The Alta and Aurelia Athletic Directors have met for preliminary discussions on athletic sharing, and Aurelia AD Grant Peckenschneider, who was at the Board meeting, said he is not anticipating problems. The District Principals were scheduled to meet with the Athletic Directors from both districts on Tuesday (Nov. 10) for further in-depth discussions and when appropriate, the two Superintendents will be invited to review proposed plans.
In personnel matters, the Board approved the offer of a Middle School Boys' Basketball Coach contract to Buena Vista University senior student Keith Kiburz, and an Assistant High School Girls' Basketball Coach contract to Ann Dornack.
Superintendent Evans reviewed the recent across-the-board cuts by the governor and discussed future educational funding projections and the impact on the Aurelia District. As for ways to deal with the funding shortfall, Evans said that, though the District does have a cash reserve, the Board will need to consider ways to trim expenditures and "tighten the belt a little bit."