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Aurelia, Alta Boards hear about High School Science classes

Thursday, December 15, 2011

AURELIA - At their regular monthly School Board meeting in Aurelia Monday, the Aurelia and Alta Boards of Education heard an informative review of the High School science program from instructors Will Dible and Doug Mossengren.

The combining of the districts this year has allowed Alta-Aurelia to offer its high school students 11 science courses, twice as many as in previous years and a number equal to or surpassing most Iowa high schools, Mossengren teaches 9th and 10th grade classes in Physical Science, Biology, Anatomy and Environmental Science, and Dible teaches 11th and 12th graders Earth Science, Basic and College-Bound Chemistry courses, algebra-based Physics, Astronomy and Nature Science.

In addition, Dible said there are many "extra curricular" science-related activities available to students, including the NASA - related Space Element outing in Houston, Texas, and participation on the Science Bowl team, as well as other workshops and field trips.

In addition, the school has just begun participation in a Twin Lakes Conference Quiz Bowl competition, which incorporates science questions as well as other academic subjects.

Dible and Mossengren also talked about the concept of "standards-based" grading, as opposed to traditional letter grading, based solely on how students do on tests. The two have discussed the concept and are experimenting with its use for a few of their students. The standards based grading is more in line with the concepts of the Iowa Core Curriculum, which will soon be in place in all Iowa School Districts.

Curriculum co-ordinator/Elementary Principal Stacey Cole informed the Board that the members of the Curriculum Committee recently attended a workshop on the Iowa Core Curriculum called "Implementing the Iowa Core," and they have also been working on the process of successfully transitioning students from separate elementary classroom.

Middle School Principal Ann Sandine was not present for the meeting, but High School Principal Tom Ryherd announced that High school students will be taking their semester tests from Dec. 20-22, just prior to the Christmas break. Ryherd also said that the High School is in the early stages of looking at purchasing an art kiln with he hope to start a Ceramics class next school year. There are 80-100 students who are involved in art classes at Alta-Aurelia, and a new kiln is seen as a needed purchase.

Ryherd also stated that the high school students are encouraged to give back to their communities through community service, and along those lines, the Community Leaders of Tomorrow group is "adopting" six local families for the Christmas season, and the students are also conducting a school-wide food drive for those in need in the community.

Ryherd also reminded Board members of the High School Holiday Concert tonight.

In other business, the Alta Board: approved the appointment of Steve Jimmerson as the school district's representative on the Prairie Lakes AEA Board of Directors; approved adding the School Board Secretary to the list of people with access to the school bank account; approved the Superintendent seeking bids from parties interested in purchasing lockers from the old High School; and approved the resignation of Lyndsay Brown as an Assistant High School Girls Track coach, pending finding a suitable replacement.

The Aurelia Board approved contract offers to Joleen Owens as a Preschool teacher and Kelsey Johnson as a Preschool Associate.

Both Boards approved charging a fee of $230/student for Driver's Education classes this year, and paying instructors Kevin Hammer in Alta and Jerry Sandine in Aurelia $165/student for their instructional services; Both boards also approved Bradley Gustafson as a volunteer wrestling coach for both the Middle School and High School wrestlers.

Early graduation requests for three High School students were approved, as all three of the students have fulfilled their educational requirements, and plan to pursue the next level of their education immediately.

The Boards also approved the policies on Travel Allowance for between-district travel and Early Retirement Policy following the second reading of both policies Monday night. Travel allowance will be reimbursed at a rate established annually by the Board, and the Early Retirement Policy has been extended until July 1, 2012. Applications for Early Retirement must be submitted by February 2012, and the number of Early Retirements will be limited to a maximum of two staff members, due to budgetary constraints.

Board members shared information each had learned at the "breakout sessions" they attended at the November IASB Convention, and the meeting was then adjourned.

The next regular monthly Board meeting will be held in Alta on January 9, 2012.

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