School board talks roofing, other issues

MARSHALL – Roofing bids were among a number of action items to be approved at the Marshall Public School board meeting on Monday.

MPS Superintendent Klint Willert and TSP architect Ron Halgerson summarized the bidding process for the board members.

“We worked a process that solicited bids based upon the specs that this board had reviewed, on considering the different products,” Willert said. “We went with a thicker millimeter product. We had a number of qualified contractors that put forward a bid.”

From 10 plan holders, six submitted bids for the Marshall Middle School roofing project.

“We chose a 90-millimeter system as the base bid,” Halgerson said. “It’s fully adhered and it’s specified as a 30-year warranty. That was one of the primary criteria for this roofing project.”

Laraway Roofing, Inc. from New Ulm came in with the lowest base bid ($390,480) and alternate 1 bid ($78,900), which is for the additional roofing areas of 14 and 18.

“Laraway Roofing is a firm I’ve known for years and years and years,” Halgerson said. “They’ve been in business for 54 years. Their proposal for the base bid, plus the alternate, is for a total of $469,380. There is also a specification that the work is to be completed by August 1.”

Before the board approved budget assumptions, MPS Business Director Bruce Lamprecht pointed out that there was a newly-reported increase in the formula for projected per adjusted pupil unit for students.

“There are changes that are occurring almost on a daily basis, with one of those being the new formula,” he said. “It’s a $25 increase in formula moving forward, from $5806 to $5831. Those assumptions will be incorporated eventually into the budget. It’s still a work in progress.”

The board also approved the continuation of partnerships with Taher Foods as the food service management and Hoffman and Brobst as the financial adviser for the district.

Two new high school students – Sara Antony and Malak Shahin – were approved as student board representatives for the 2014-15 school year.

“We received applications from four outstanding people,” board chairman Jeff Chapman said. “It was hard to pick just two. But we approved Sara and Malak to be our representatives.”

A handful of district educators – Park Side Elementary Principal Darci Love, West Side Elementary Principal Jeremy Williams, director of curriculum Amanda Grinager and teachers Sue Strautz and Bob Jacobson – gave a presentation on “Standards Based Learning.” Standards, they said, mean the state content standards are various grade levels.

A committee of 17 people worked together on the year-long process.

The focus changes from grading by averages to what the student knows and is able to do. That process provides greater equality in learning for all students, the educators said.

“It’s really a shift in our thinking for staff, our parents and our students,” Grinager said. “The main purpose is to communicate better.”

An example of a past report card was passed out to board members in addition to a projected new version.

“Our current report card might have said a student received an ‘A,’ but parents had no idea what you were basing it on,” Strautz said. “We want to teach all 180 standards, but we had to narrow it down to the essentials on the report card. The new one is more specific. It tells exactly what your child is learning.”

Grinager pointed out that the educators referred to the DuFour Model and the 4 Big Questions:

What do we want students to know?

How will we know they learned it?

What will we do if they already know it?

What will we do if they don’t learn it?

In response to board members’ inquiries about retention for students who do not pass a certain number of standards, Grinager said there was quite a bit to work out yet, especially if the district chooses to apply the standards-based reporting in the upper grades.

“That’s something we’ll be working on,” she said. “But research does not support holding kids back. That’s why it is so important to meet them where they’re at.”

Two kindergarten classrooms piloted a standards-based report card during the 2012-13 school year. All kindergarten classrooms will use a standards-based report card for their final one in the spring of 2014. In addition, two first-grade classrooms piloted the new version during the 2013-14 school year. The plans are to move the effort forward in grades K-4 in the near future.

Board members briefly discussed the possibility of making a change to the lunch hour for the 2014-15 school year. The administration has been exploring a 1-hour lunch concept for the past three months. During that time (11 a.m. to noon), the cafeteria would remain open for students to eat and teachers would continue to have a 30-minute, duty-free lunch and would hold classroom, office and activity meetings during the other half.

“One of the speakers at MA-TEC mentioned that students’ whole lives were scheduled for them,” Willert said. “With a 1-hour lunch concept, students could eat lunch and then work on makeup homework and other tasks. It doesn’t open up the campus, but it allows for flexibility and the transition of ownership.”