Academics pillar progressing, board told

by Dave Cary Review Correspondent

PLYMOUTH – Assistant Superintendent Dan Mella told the School Board that work on the district’s Academic Pillars of Excellence had come a long way in the past year. The “pillars” concept is a way of visualizing both long- and short-range goals the district leadership team sets. This includes not only formulation of the goal, but specifying intermediate steps that need to be taken in reaching them.

For example, in the “Academic Excellence” pillar, there is a long-range goal of having all students prepared for post-secondary education by the time they leave high school. Supporting this was a shorter-range goal of seeing an increase in enrollment in various food service-related programs, since earlier research had determined much of employment in this geographical area was in this field.

And ... in the past year enrollment in courses in this area had increased 5 percent in the last year.

With a short-range “to do” of enhancing the learning environment, it was noted that fundraising for the Food and Agricultural Science Center was far ahead of the goal the team had set last year, and that Youth Apprentice programs had experienced a rise of 25 percent in enrollment from 18 to 23 students

– after having had only two students total three years ago.

Mella said that the Writing Project – a Plymouth-developed plan aimed at increasing writing skills of students more or less across the board – had not only been completed in the last year but also had been put in action enough that instead of doing pilot classes this year, it will go to full implementation in the district and has attracted interest from the state and other districts as well.

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In presenting three revisions to the 2014- 15 Elementary School Student/Parent Handbook, Horizon Principal Todd Hunt said the first revision meant that schools would be locked to the outside from 9:10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. and those wishing to enter needed to be “buzzed in.” Another revision informs parents that a new section of state assessment testing would take place in the spring rather than being added to the fall testing. Hunt also said that students would not be allowed to bring personal items to school without their teacher’s permission.

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Language teachers Laura Koebel and Sandy Nicholson received board approval to take students on a service-learning trip to Ecuador from next March 19 through 27, which coincides with spring break. The trip, Koebel said, will be totally different than earlier trips of this type, although it does meet the parameters of current school policy. Emphasis on the Spanish language, she said, would be somewhat relaxed as the villages to be visited speak a local dialect rather than Spanish; the purpose of the trip will be interaction with locals and will include building and repairing school structures. The trip is funded by those taking it. Parents are welcome.

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In personnel matters, the board approved a 100 percent contract for Matthew Mueller as guidance counselor in the district for the 2014-15 school year. Mueller received his bachelor’s degree from UW-M and master’s degree from Lakeland College. He has worked in a similar capacity in the Cochran School District for three years.

A 100 percent contract was also approved for Billie Rau to teach eighth-grade science and math at Riverview Middle School for the 2014-15 school year. Rau received her bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin- Green Bay and her master’s degree from UWM, and has been a middle school teacher in the Sheboygan Area School District for 13 years.

The board also accepted the resignation of math coach Paul DePagter, effective July 7. DePagter has four years’ experience in the Plymouth School District.

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Bread and milk suppliers for the upcoming school year were selected from bids that were analyzed by Business Manager John Miller, who could not be present.

In his memo accompanying the bids, Miller described differences between the top five bread bids as “razor-thin.” Ultimately, he recommended the board accept the current supplier, Pan O’ Gold Bakeries (who was second lowest in price by a small amount), because they offered a wider selection which, Miller said, might stimulate sales.

The milk bid, Miller’s memo stated, was less competitive than before, and he recommended Engelhardt Dairy because its prices were 2-3 cents lower per unit and the district will be able to continue using six milk coolers the dairy provides.

The board accepted Miller’s recommendations.

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In his report, Board President Tim St. Clair said he had been pleased to hear that summer school had gotten off to its best start in a long time, with students seeming charged and glad to start. This, he said, had been largely credited to moving the start date into early July rather than close to the end of the previous school year, thus providing a longer break between the two.

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