By Peg Craig
The St Michael-Albertville School district is preparing for distance learning for its students. Since not all students have equal access to computers and on-line services the teachers will be trying a variety of methods to allow their students to study at home. STMA schools are closed from now to March 27. Teachers are using this time to prepare for the new procedures. It is expected that school will resume on March 30. Plans are being made to provide lunches for students and childcare for emergency and healthcare personnel only. Current information will be available on the district website stma.k12.mn.us/. Scroll down to see district announcements on the home page.
The School Board met to hear about graduation rates, approve additional staffing for the next school year, and join a technology network.
Jonah Barten, Director of Testing and Assessment for STMA, reported on the rising graduation rates for the district. These are calculated by tracking each class through their high school years to see how many are retained and graduate in four years. The graduation rate for the class of 2019 was 96.15%. This was well above the state average graduation rate of 83.7%. It is difficult to track students who leave the state to determine if they graduate from another high school. It is notable that all the English Language Learners graduated on schedule.
School Superintendent Ann-Marie Foucault has been meeting with the principals of the schools to determine what positions will need to be added for the next school year. She asked the School Board to approve 4.25 fulltime positions at the high school. The freshman class for next year will be larger than the class graduating this year and the positions are needed to provide lower class sizes. The high school will be at capacity but the following classes are smaller and are expected to remain so despite the growth in the area.
Foucault also recommended 4.0 additional Special Education teachers for next year. The Special Education program is growing and rules mandate the student/teacher ratios for these students. The state reimburses schools for 45% of the expense of educating these students but the payments do not arrive until the following school year. The board approved the additional positions for the high school and special education.
Foucault did not recommend positions which were not directly related to the classrooms. She did not recommend additional secretarial positions requested by the principals and is not adding a counselor at the high school. She suggests that additional state funding approved by the legislature may allow filling some of these positions without increasing the current deficit spending in the district.
The STMA School Board agreed to join the West Metro Schools Network with eight other school districts to share resources “and be able to collectively procure network services.” Costs will be equally shared between the districts. It is expected to be to the district’s advantage to be in this cluster because the district expects to save $60,000 over the next few years. The network providers are taxed to help provide internet access to the school districts. The state will reimburse the district from this fund, STMA’s share will be about $27,000 over three years.