With a winter full of school delays and cancellations due to winter, it might seem as if students will be making up days by attending school all summer long. At the regular meeting of the school board Feb. 18, a decision was made on how students will make up the missed time.

An allotment of two late starts and two snow days was built into the 2018-19 school year. So far this year, students have had one two-hour delay and five weather induced cancellations. The board voted unanimously to add five minutes of instruction to the end of the school day in each building beginning Monday, March 4. Also, April 18 will be changed from an in-service day to a school day. By making these changes, the last day of school will be held on Thursday, June 6. A decision was made to leave a start date of June 10 for summer School. Should further cancellations arise, days will need to be added to the end of the school year and if needed, a change in the date of summer School will be made.

Also discussed at Monday’s meeting were changes being made to the grading system at Amery Middle School. Principal Tom Bensen shared a presentation with attendees about Standards Based Grading. 

“Over the course of the last several years, administrators and teachers have looked to improve instructional practices and educational assessment by researching best practices and policies. We have been collaborating and researching how these practices could be implemented to have a positive effect on student achievement. For three years, teams of teachers from all four buildings have attended the SolutionTree Professional Learning Community (PLC) Conference in Minneapolis. It has proven to provide a framework that significantly improves student achievement,” said Bensen.

Bensen described four questions in which PLC teams direct their focus: What do we expect students to learn?  How do we know they are learning it? How do we respond when they do not learn? Lastly, How do we respond when they have already learned?

The vision for PLC teams is that all students will show mastery of essential standards and to ensure high levels of academic achievement and social emotional development for all students.

PLC goals include: Fully Implementing the PLC process district wide; to be able to identify Essential Standards, which means figuring out what the students must know in every class. Essential Standards are not the only thing taught in a class, but they have been identified as being the most important and vital for mastery of the subject. 

Bensen explained PLC teams would create and implement quality Common Formative Assessments to determine student mastery of each Essential Standard. PLC teams will intervene (reteach) students who do not show mastery and will have additional resources and advanced application materials for students who do show mastery.

The Amery Middle School will fully implement a standards based grading system by the year 2021-2022. Bensen will be sharing a presentation about the change in the grading system to interested parents Thursday, Feb. 21, and again during sixth grade orientation.

In personnel action the board approved contracts for: Randall Clancy, mechanic and Transportation Assistant; Megan Jensen, Special Education Para educator at the High School; Emily Richison, Clubhouse assistant teacher; Lori Schwanke, Food Service at the Middle School and Bill Tylee as a High School Assistant Wrestling Coach.

Resignations were accepted for: Cassie Castro, special education teacher at the Middle School; Whitney Feidt, Title I at the Elementary School and Tracy Longhenry as a High School special education teacher.

Retirements announced were Paulette Braatz as Director of Personnel and Wendy Kendzior as Speech/language pathologist at the Intermediate School.

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