Time For a New Wardrobe – Boundary Adjustments

As the city of Fargo continues to grow, school enrollment also increases, The public school district must prepare to handle the increased student numbers through new construction or boundary adjustments or both.

 

North Dakota is in the midst of an economic boom. Business is strong and unemployment is low. Cities across the state are growing. As Fargo grows, we see that school enrollment is stabilizing at north side schools and reaching capacity at south side schools, where most of the physical growth of the city is happening. The situation is similar to a parent with a constantly growing and maturing child – it’s time (again) to buy the baby a new wardrobe as they outgrow their current clothes.

Fargo school enrollment analysis, conducted by independent consultants RSP & Associates, has projected district-wide enrollment growth for the foreseeable future. The District’s current total enrollment of 11,026 (December 2014) is projected to be 11,698 by Fall 2018, with many south side schools at or over enrollment capacity.

In November 2013, Fargo Public Schools (FPS) updated their Long Range Facility Plan. The construction of Ed Clapp Elementary School, located at 31st Avenue and 28th Street South and set to open fall 2015, is a direct response to the growing enrollment numbers on the south side of Fargo. The new school will accommodate around 550 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

With the addition of Ed Clapp Elementary, FPS is now comprised of 16 elementary schools, three middle schools, three comprehensive high schools, and one alternative high school. And, just like when welcoming a new baby to the family, adjustments and accommodations need to occur to make the addition a successful one. Elementary boundaries on the south side of Fargo were adjusted and will take effect fall 2015 to accommodate the new school, balance out enrollment numbers across all south side schools, and plan for continued enrollment growth. “Our goal is to provide a high quality education to all of our students, ensuring equitable access to academic programming at each school,” stated Dr. Robert Grosz, associate superintendent of Teaching and Learning.

In June 2014, the Fargo Board of Education approved boundary changes for Fargo Public Schools’ elementary schools effective in the fall of 2015. The adjusted school boundaries set the attendance area for Ed Clapp Elementary, reduced the number of students at Lewis & Clark Elementary and Lincoln Elementary, and provided for future growth at Kennedy Elementary, Bennett Elementary and Centennial Elementary. Schools affected by the new attendance boundaries are: Bennett, Centennial, Kennedy, Lewis & Clark, and Lincoln Elementary Schools. (If a school is not listed, there are no changes to that elementary school’s boundaries.)

View the NEW South Fargo Elementary Boundary Map for 2015-16.

The new boundaries were determined through a multi-phase process. “Using the Guiding Principles outlined in the Long Range Facility Plan, we went through multiple drafts, inputting many variables and considering many designs, to ultimately define an equitable system for all the schools and students,” shared Associate Superintendent Grosz.

While the transition to these new school boundaries is not without some uncomfortable moments, the benefits for the students and families affected by the new boundaries are substantial. “Overcrowding at some schools is alleviated, and capacity is created to allow other buildings to fill back in as city growth continues,” said Grosz. This maintains lower classroom sizes and more efficiently uses our district buildings and school resources.

Grosz also shared, “With the addition of Ed Clapp, we will create another ‘neighborhood’ school. This allows more students to walk or ride their bicycles to school, rather than having to take the bus.” The boundary adjustment extends that neighborhood concept to more FPS elementary schools with the realigned boundaries. “A neighborhood school creates a real sense of community, both physically and through the work of our staff and instructors. We want to continue to offer all Fargo Public School students a culture of welcome in a caring learning environment.”

FPS school boundary maps and resources are available online at www.fargo.k12.nd.us/boundarymaps, and include a GuideK12 Address Look-up Database Tool to determine which school your address is assigned. You will need your exact street address to input in the look-up tool. If you have any questions regarding addresses for school assignment, you may also call 701.446.1043.

Cass County Property Tax Statements & K-12 Education Funding

Cass County residents recently received their 2014 property tax statements. Understand your property tax statement and the impact Fargo Public Schools Board of Education decisions have had on reducing your tax burden.

“Tis the Season…”
By Fargo Public Schools Business Services Manager Broc Lietz

Photo portrait of Fargo Public Schools Business Manager Broc LietzThis time of year, many of us are thinking about the holiday season, especially when we hear this phrase, and I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays as 2014 comes to a close.

One of the other items that comes to mind this time of the year is the end of a tax season. If you haven’t already received it, you will soon receive your 2014 property tax statement from Cass County. As many of you know, local property tax is one of the three components of K – 12 education funding.  Fargo Public Schools receives revenues through state foundation aid, local property tax, and federal funds. When you receive your property tax statement, the taxes paid are detailed by each taxing entity. You will find this information on the bottom of your tax statement.

There is a commonly misunderstood belief that if your taxes go up in a given year, that Fargo Public Schools may be responsible for raising your taxes. I want to clearly state to you that this is not true. In fact, last year (2013) Fargo Public Schools reduced your taxes by 52.18 mills, extending beyond what was required under state law and the new education funding formula. This year (2014) Fargo Public Schools tax levy remained flat.

This is not to say that your property tax bill didn’t increase in 2014; I am simply stating that any increase is not the result of Fargo Public Schools raising its mill levy or your taxes. Any property tax increase you see in 2014 is either the result of your property valuation increasing or other taxing entities increasing their mill levy.

Each year around this time, Fargo Public Schools posts a Current Tax Information piece to our online Public Information Warehouse, which can be found on the home page of our website, www.fargo.k12.nd.us. The link for the Current Tax Information is posted at the end of this column for easy access. I encourage you to review the information. You will clearly see that over the past 12 years Fargo Public Schools has not increased it mill levy or your taxes. In fact, this mill levy has dropped 149.79 mills over this period, partially due to legislative property tax relief efforts and partially due to local decisions made by the Fargo Public Schools Board of Education.

Please take the time to understand your property tax statement and the impact local decisions have had on reducing your tax burden.

Access the Fargo Public Schools Current Tax Information document at www.fargo.k12.nd.us/taxinfo.

Davies High School Announces New Boys’ Track Head Coach

By Lenny Ohlhauser, Davies High School Activities Coordinator

Davies High School (Fargo, ND) announced on December 9 that it has hired Matthew Quintus for the Boys’ Track and Field Head Coach position. Coach Quintus was an assistant for both the boys’ track (2014) and football program (2013, 2014) at Davies.

Coach Quintus is a graduate from Dickinson State University and teaches Science at Davies High School. Prior to coming to Fargo, Quintus was a science teacher and coach at Stanley High School in Stanley, ND.  At Dickinson State, Quintus earned his bachelor’s degree in composite science education while also playing football and running track for the Blue Hawks.  Quintus graduated from Killdeer High School (Killdeer, ND) and was a four sport letter-winner in football, basketball, track and field, and golf.

Coach Quintus resides in West Fargo, ND with his wife, Amanda, and their dog, Winston.

The “Business” of Thanksgiving

A group of Madison Elementary students gained valuable lessons by “paying it forward” at Thanksgiving time and utilizing their Junior Achievement lessons in business and finance.

 

A Business Plan with a Budget and a Goal Target, executed by Box Carriers and Food Managers armed with a Mapping Diagram. Not the typical items on a shopping list for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Yet these Junior Achievement lesson items are exactly how Janelle Helm’s second grade class at Madison Elementary School assembled their Thanksgiving Meal Food Boxes last week. Here’s the story…

Our heartwarming Thanksgiving tale begins with Junior Achievement volunteer and Bell State Bank and Trust employee Chad Jaroszewski. As he was visiting Mrs. Helm’s class to deliver a Junior Achievement lesson to her 17 students earlier this fall, Jaroszewski had an “aha” moment and knew how he wanted to direct his $1,000 allotment from Bell Banks’  Pay It Forward donation program – by giving it to these Madison students for items they might need.

What he didn’t know was how hard the students would work to determine how they in turn could pay it forward to others. After much discussion, the second graders settled on using the donated funds to create Thanksgiving Meal Food Boxes for Madison Elementary families as their pay it forward project. When describing the student’s final decision, Helm said, “The community reaches out to our school so much and I feel that it is such a great lesson for my kids to want to give back to the community as well!  I have such a great group!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using their Junior Achievement business and finance lessons, the students then drafted a business plan to create and assemble the meal boxes, complete with a budget and a goal target (initially 30 food boxes) and assigned everyone tasks to properly execute their plan. They determined what items their meal should contain, created a shopping list, and secured a sale price discount from Hornbacher’s Food Store for their purchases. The students diagrammed out how to pack their boxes for maximum load (and so they didn’t crush the buns or smash the fresh pumpkin pie). They even laid out an assembly production line in their classroom, with a job assignment for everyone.

When they were done with their planning, the students were surprised to learn they would be able to assemble 42 meal boxes – 12 more than their goal target of 30 boxes. That’s a 40% higher production output – their careful planning had paid off in a big way!

On November 24, Jaroszewski was again on hand in Helm’s second grade classroom to help the Madison students execute the last few steps of their business plan and assemble the meal boxes. “This is truly the highlight of my teaching career,” shared Helm on the big day. “I’m so proud of these students. They came up with the business plan and shared it with Mr. J and then made it happen. It’s their project!”

While the meal box recipients won’t see the pride and smiles with which their box was packed by this classroom of business-savvy and community-minded students, they did receive an extra helping of love in the way of a Thanksgiving poem or handmade card added to the meal by the students as the final step of their Thanksgiving Meal Food Box business plan.

 

November is DECA Month in North Dakota…Who Knew?

By proclamation from the Governor of North Dakota, November 2014 is designated as DECA Month for the state. Read what this high school organization is accomplishing within Fargo Public Schools to prep students for careers and college, including a special scholarship for 2014-15 FPS high school seniors.

 

Who gets involved in DECA? (video) We do! Fargo Public Schools’ three comprehensive high schools each operate a DECA Chapter. In addition, several of the 2014-15 North Dakota DECA State Officers are FPS students: Anna Lawley (South High) is serving as President, along with Brady Boeddeker (South) and Adam Vareberg (Davies) who are serving as Vice Presidents. “DECA provides the resources and opportunities for students to be successful and gain skills that will benefit them throughout their lives,” shared Lawley.

DECA logos have changed over timeDECA was founded in 1946 as the Distributive Education Clubs of America. While their mission has remained the same throughout the years – to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management – their scope has since gone international, and the acronym has been dropped.

There are more than 3,500 high school DECA chapters, with more than 200,000 high school members in 5,000 classrooms throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guam, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Spain, and Turkey.

DECA is one of ten Career and Technical Student Organizations recognized by the United States Department of Education. “CTSOs play an important supporting role in the education process as a co-curricular club which extends learning beyond the classroom,” shared Dr. Denise Jonas, Director of Career and Technical Education Consortium Center.

“DECA activities provide a comprehensive learning program for its members as concepts learned within marketing courses are applied through leadership activities, community service projects, and state and national competitive events. DECA is a perfect complement to Career and Technical Education classroom courses, encompassing the 4 C’s of creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical-thinking. The students gain hand-in-hand theory and practical knowledge, which makes them stronger students and better leaders.” Each DECA chapter determines its own projects, and students complete all phases of project organization, execution, and presentation. The goal is to prepare students through real-world experiences for college and careers in marketing, finance, management, and other business areas.

graphic of learning tenets of the DECA organization

Oftentimes DECA projects will encompass a social justice message. Inclusion, anti-bullying/drugs/alcohol, and internet safety are all message campaigns undertaken by various FPS DECA chapters over the past several years. DECA fundraiser projects typically benefit a non-profit social service organization such as Special Olympics, United Way, or Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

Davies High DECA Projects for 2014-15:

  • Davies DECA will once again hold their Prom Fashion Show, featuring students with and without disabilities, on January 31, 2015.
  • Project Unify is Davies’ effort to promote school-wide inclusion. Activities throughout the school year unite students with and without disabilities, who work together to accomplish a project. An April 2014 post on the group’s Facebook page chronicles one girl’s decision to enter the special education field for her career as a result of her Project Unify participation.
  • With support from Ron and Karen Offutt of RDO, Davies DECA will offer a 2015 Entrepreneur and Business Scholarship, with over $5,000 in award money, to encourage and aid students interested in attending college for a business field. Additional RDO funds will provide an endowed annual Entrepreneurship Scholarship.

Jason Holland is the Davies’ DECA advisor.

North High DECA Projects for 2014-15:

  • North staged a first-of-its-kind Prom Expo last year, which raised $656 for MDA. This bi-annual event will be held again in spring 2016.
  • In celebration of North Dakota’s DECA Month, the North chapter has held special activities for the week of November 17-21, including several fundraisers for MDA.
  • DECA members will visit north side elementary schools and Ben Franklin Middle School in December to inform them about MDA and those the agency serves. Afterwards, the DECA students will collect “Make A Change” coins for a donation to MDA.

Three DECA students confer over papers and a clipboard at a podium

The North DECA Chapter has averaged more than 150 members over the past three years, and has been recognized by National DECA as the largest DECA Chapter in North Dakota for each of those years. Craig Erickson oversees the North DECA Chapter.

South High DECA Projects for 2014-15:

  • To kick off DECA Month, South DECA members recognized acts of kindness throughout the school for National World Kindness Day on November 13. Students were given a sticker to wear throughout the day in recognition of their positive actions towards others.
  • Chapter members are also planning the annual Mr. South Pageant to be held on Friday, December 19. Event proceeds will benefit agencies associated with United Way of Cass Clay.
  • The DECA chapter is partnering with the FPS AFJROTC program located at South to organize a Dodgeball Tournament in December or January. Event proceeds will go to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Sara Smith serves as the advisor for the South High DECA Chapter.

North Dakota devotes a gubernatorial proclamation and 30 days of attention to a high school club and its activities, which positively impact our students for a lifetime.

________________________________________________________________________

Application for the RDO Entrepreneur and Business Scholarship remains open through January 15, 2015 to all FPS 2014-15 graduating high school seniors.

Christmas Tree Event Includes Learning Opportunity

An annual community holiday event recently provided a learning opportunity for a diverse group of Fargo Public Schools students.

By Fargo Public Schools Special Education and Student Support Services Director Patricia Cummings

photo portrait of Patricia CummingsThe Social Inclusion classes at Davies and North High Schools participated in Fraser, Ltd.’s 14th annual Festival of Trees. On November 13, 39 students, teachers, and staff members decorated a themed Christmas tree that will be on display through December 5 at the FargoDome during regular business hours. Their tree is one of more than 150 decorated trees for Fraser, Ltd.’s annual holiday event.

The Social Inclusion classes consist of students who have Multiple Impairments (hearing, sight, speech, behavioral, learning, and physical impairments) as well as same-age peers without impairments. These classes have been offered as part of Fargo Public Schools curriculum for 20+ years. They were developed to encourage positive interaction among students of differing abilities and interests.

group of students and adults in front of partially decorated Christmas treet

The North High Inclusion class at the FargoDome, in front of their partially decorated Christmas tree.

By participating in Festival of Trees, the students demonstrate that they, too, are valuable community members who can “give back” in a meaningful way as volunteers.

This opportunity is sponsored by the local FEET (Family Educator Enhancement Team) and was initiated by a former FEET parent member. New ornaments and other tree decorations were donated by FPS staff and FEET members.

photo of group of students and adults standng in front of completely decorated Christmas tree

The Davies Inclusion class in front of the finished blue-themed tree on display at the FargoDome.

All students in Fargo Public Schools take part in becoming college and career ready and this group of students is no different! The students participated in an adapted lesson to select the blue decoration theme and then executed the decoration plan for the Christmas tree. This community activity helped the Social Inclusion students attain the designated course benchmarks for Strategies and Activities Needed to Assist the Student in Reaching Post-Secondary Goals.

Five photos of pairs of students putting ornaments on a Christmas tree

________________________________________________________________________

graphic organization logo for Fraser LimitedFraser, Ltd. invites the community to join the Claus Family for cookies and to view the full array of decorated trees on November 28 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the FargoDome, University Drive & 19th Ave N, Fargo.

Update on Fargo Schools Long Range Facility Plan

Recent media reports shared the Fargo School Board decision to begin a land acquisition search in South Fargo. In light of that directive, Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Schatz gives an update on Fargo Public Schools Long Range Facility Plan.

 

photo portrait of Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey SchatzJust over a year ago, the Board of Education approved a Long Range Facility Plan to help guide the District in making decisions about future facility and maintenance needs.  From this plan came a 10-year operational maintenance plan, which now guides the decisions we make regarding building upkeep and overall maintenance of buildings.  Congruent to the plan was the work that occurred during this past summer.  Six buildings in the district received a major overhaul in their HVAC systems (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning).  The work completed over the summer was simply amazing, as each building was gutted and restored back to operations well in time before school started this fall.  The work completed in the buildings was a direct result of the implementation phase of our Long Range Facility Plan.

In addition to building upgrades, the District also developed a plan to offset rapid growth in Fargo’s far south region. The Long Range Facility Planning process laid the ground work, which initiated the building of a new elementary school just north of 32nd Avenue at Ed Clapp Park. (Ed Clapp Elementary School construction site pictured below on October 31.) Through a process of research, discussion, and consensus building, the realization of a new school is now close at hand. In the fall of 2015, Ed Clapp Elementary School will open its doors in a neighborhood setting with walkable distances for the majority of students who will attend the school.  This infill plan reflects a collaboration with the City of Fargo’s “Go 2030” plan.

So, you might ask, “What is the point, Dr. Schatz?”  My point is this: we live in a vibrant and ever changing city.  As the city continues to grow, we must be proactive in planning for future growth.  A Long Range Facility Plan provides us guidance in making decisions to fit that growth.  As a district we are collaborating with the City of Fargo’s Planning Department and have articulated the need to be part of that planning as new developments are plotted and approved by the City.  In other words, we do not want to be the reason for the growth, but rather be part of the planning, so that the District can be prepared if and when that growth occurs.

At their November 12 meeting, the Board of Education directed administration to look for potential land sites in the far southwest part of the city, which is an action item included in the Long Range Facility Plan.  By doing so, we can take a long range look at proposed City planning and developments and ensure that Fargo Public Schools has a “place to be” someday when the development occurs.

Unfortunately, long range planning can be misunderstood.  Recently, it was reported that the District is “building another new elementary school.”  Nothing could be farther from the truth. The reality is we are planning for the future and there is no current plan to build a new school at this point in time. When the time comes, by being proactive and planning for the future, we will have a place to build a school – most importantly, the right place that fits and meets the needs of any new development.

I would encourage everyone to take some time and review our current Long Range Facility Plan.  It can be found at this link.  Long Range Facility Planning makes sense.  By being proactive, we can be wise in our decision making and ensure that the use of taxpayer dollars is maximized as we maintain our facilities in the Fargo Public School District.

Winter Driving & Safety Tips

Review a few basic winter weather driving and safety tips, along with a Winter Survival app for your mobile phone and helpful online links.

SAFE SCHOOLS, SAFE KIDS: Winter Weather Driving and Safety Tips
by Fargo Police Officer Amy Kingzett

photo portrait of Police Officer Amy KingzettWe live in North Dakota and with that comes some bragging rights… You don’t get named The Weather Channel’s “Toughest Weather City” in 2011 and as a semi-finalist in 2012 and 2013 for nothing. Whether we like it or not, cold weather and SNOW have arrived, and we should be prepared.

 

 

Dress for the weather. Having proper weather attire is the first step in the process of keeping yourself safe in the elements. Bring your boots, hats, scarves, and snow gear along with you in the car. It does you no good if it’s hanging in the closet on a -10 degree day if you’ve ended up in the ditch.

Pay attention to weather warnings. When you hear terms like Winter Storm Warning, Wind Chill Warning, Winter Weather Advisory, Wind Chill Advisory, or Blizzard Warning, take note and pay attention. If there is “No Travel Advised” it really means that there is no travel advised. It’s not worth the extra risk to yourselves or the lives of the people who come to rescue you, if you make an unnecessary decision to venture out and get stuck or stranded. You can be ticketed for this, in addition to being charged the costs associated with your rescue.

Slow down. This applies to everyday winter driving. The speed limit is exactly what it is: the limit that one can travel up to, when the conditions are favorable. If the sign says 30 mph, consider that 15 mph might be the speed that’s safe for the conditions. Leave extra room ahead of you so you can stop in time for the unexpected. If you’re sliding through the intersection on a red light, it’s not the ice’s fault – you don’t have control of your vehicle, and you will receive a ticket.

Make sure your vehicle is road ready for winter travel. Check the vehicle battery, belts and hoses, anti-freeze level, oil, lights, brakes, heater and defroster, and check the exhaust system for leaks that would allow carbon monoxide to enter your vehicle. Do not leave without a full fuel tank, even if it’s a short trip.

Tell others about your travel plans. Make sure you have a cell phone with you (and a charger) in case of emergencies. Let someone know your travel plans, your route, and your expected arrival. Before you head out, check the ND Department of Transportation’s website for winter road information. If you do become stranded, stay with your vehicle. Run the engine sparingly and keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow.

Have a winter survival kit in your car. Gather: blankets, extra warm clothing (parka, boots, long underwear, heavy socks, mittens, ski mask), a heat source (multiple wick candle and matches), water or a metal container that’s suitable for melting ice or snow into water, a radio and a flashlight (with extra batteries), food (hard candy, nuts, raisins, jerky, etc.), reading material, toilet tissue, nylon rope, jumper cables, bright red or orange cloth to signal for help, a bag of kitty litter or sand, and a shovel. If stranded, access to a winter survival kit can be the difference between life and death. Check out this list for more information on what to pack in a winter survival kit.

Winter Survival App graphic logoWinter Survival Kit smartphone app. Developed by the NDSU Ag Extension Office, this smartphone app can help you determine your current location coordinates, call 9-1-1, notify your friends and family, calculate how long you can run your engine to keep warm and stay safe from carbon monoxide poisoning, and more. The app is available for free on Google Play and the iTunes App Store. Download Winter Survival Kit for Android or iOS (iPhone).

More winter driving information is available online at the ND DOT website.

If you’re not sure whether you should venture out or not, consider staying home. Take the opportunity to spend the night in as a family. As always, call 9-1-1 if you have an emergency and need assistance.

Musical Experience-of-a-Lifetime – TWICE!

One Fargo South High senior has gotten to experience a “once-in-a-lifetime” musical performance opportunity twice!

photo portrait of student Christiena TaralsonChristiena Tarlason auditioned and was selected to play her trumpet in New York City with the Great American Marching Band (GAMB) in the 2013 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was such a memorable performing experience that she auditioned again, and was selected to perform this Thanksgiving with the 185-member GAMB as well.

While in many ways this second trip to New York City (NYC) will be much like the first, there are differences. Last year, family paid for her participation and travel expenses; this year Taralson has had to raise the funds on her own, which she has done through rummage sales, special fundraisers, and taking on extra jobs/hours. Last year she traveled to NYC with her mother and sister; this year she is traveling on her own. Last year, she knew none of the other GAMB members; this year she is rooming with her three same band roommates from 2013. Last year she was also part of a select group of GAMB members who performed on the TODAY show (Taralson is pictured below on the TODAY Show); this year, that honor may not be offered to the band.

Taralson plays her trumpet in Red and White band uniform with TODAY show logo in foreground

Similar to last time, Taralson has had to prepare two musical numbers, which must be memorized prior to her arrival in New York. She received the GAMB music online about six weeks ago. Taralson credits a wide circle of musical instructors and mentors with her love of music and playing abilities, which earned her the spot in the parade band. Sebastian Tackling and John Syverson are her current band instructors at South High; Dan Italiano (North High) has directed her in numerous Trollwood and North High production orchestras; Sarah Lichtblau (South High) has directed her in South production orchestras; Fargo Moorhead Youth Symphony Conductor Jane Capistran and Jeremy Brekke (NDSU), her private lesson instructor, round out her top list.

group of 4 girls in red and white band uniforms, arms around each other

Tarlason (pictured left, second from the left) will leave for New York on November 22 and return to Fargo on November 28. While in New York City to rehearse and perform for the parade, the entire band is also scheduled to visit the World Trade Center Memorial Site, Top of the Rock Observational Deck, and Rockefeller Center. There are plans to see a Broadway musical, and spend some free time at Times Square.

While she’s seen most of those sights before, Taralson is truly looking forward to her second trip to NYC and marching and playing in the Macy’s parade. “This year I’m looking forward to making some new friends, and having the opportunity to play with such a talented band again. I’m also looking forward to seeing my roommates again. Even though we’re all in different parts of the country, we still talk to each other frequently. It amazes me as to how close I got with some of the band members in that short week from last year.”

You can watch for Taralson’s performance during the 88th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade live broadcast on CBS – KXJB Channel 4 beginning at 8:00 a.m. CT on Thursday, November 27. The parade is seen by 2.5 million spectators along the NYC parade route and more than 50 million television viewers.

Middle School Schedule Adjustments for Fargo Public Schools

In order to positively impact student performance, a new Middle School schedule will be implemented for the 2015-16 school year that includes a consistent intervention and extension period. This schedule adjustment will allow Fargo Public Schools to provide a better learning opportunity for all students. The two-year process to develop this new Middle School Schedule is now coming to a close.

Middle School Schedule Adjustment Process
By Associate Superintendent Dr. Robert Grosz

This year the Fargo Public Schools (FPS) Teaching and Learning Department is working with our Middle Schools to finalize the details regarding a change in the schedule for the middle school day.  The genesis of this schedule change has been worked on for the past several years and is now in the stage of implementation.  This is a comprehensive overview of this process and the plan for implementation during the 2015-16 school year.

The 2014-15 FPS Operational Plan states:

Finalize the revised Middle School schedule recommendation including staffing costs, changes to transportation, interventions (including costs associated with interventions), and curriculum writing. (Indicator 4.2)

The need for a revised Middle School schedule with a consistent intervention and extension period for all students is evidenced by district level mathematics and reading trend data.  The data shows that for the past seven years approximately thirty plus percent of our Middle School students have not shown proficiency on the Measures of Academic Performance (MAP) Assessment in mathematics and reading.  In addition to these courses/areas of instruction, based on a review of student grades, students have also shown a need for additional help and assistance in the other Middle School classes.  In order to positively impact student performance, students need the opportunity to be provided interventions and extensions that vary in intensity based on their needs.  A new Middle School schedule with a consistent intervention and extension period will help the district to provide this opportunity for all students.

Grade 6 – MAP Trend Data

 

Grade 7 – MAP Trend Data

Grade 8 – MAP Trend Data

The Middle School schedule recommendation was developed by a committee of eight Middle Level teachers, three parents and six administrators over the course of two years.  Many committee meetings and literally twenty-five (25) draft Middle School schedule recommendations were developed before the committee came to consensus on the 25th draft. Along the way, the committee kept the general good for all students in the forefront of the planning.

During the committee’s first two meetings, the group determined the following areas of focus to drive conversation and in the end a Middle School schedule recommendation.  (The group re-affirmed the focus areas during the meeting in which the group voted to see if there was consensus on DRAFT 25.)

1. Strive to eliminate quarter length courses.
2. Strive to move Tools for Schools to 6th grade.
3. Strive to create a consistent intervention time.
4. Strive to remain true to Middle School Philosophy.
- Required exposure to coursework instead of elective coursework
- Relationship  building in Advisory
5. Consider revamping 6th grade (e.g., block scheduling).
6. Strive to move World Language to an earlier grade
- Strive to keep World Language Survey
7. Consider difficulties created by A/B schedule (e.g., Art)
8. Consider strengths of A/B Schedule (e.g., World Language, PE)

The committee determined that consensus would be met when all but two dissenters indicated support of the decision.  There were no dissenters at the meeting when the group voted to see if there was consensus on DRAFT 25.  One member was absent the day the committee voted to see if there was consensus on DRAFT 25.  It was later discovered that this member dissented.

The committee’s recommendation was reviewed by district administration and the Teaching and Learning Department was charged with developing the final plan for implementation for the 2015-16 school year.

Below is the current Middle School Schedule:


Below is the committee’s recommended Middle School Schedule:

The changes from the current Middle School Schedule to the committee’s recommendation are:

How does DRAFT 25 address the areas of focus developed by the committee?

Will DRAFT 25 increase the amount of student contact time for Middle School staff?

  • No, it will not increase student contact time for Middle School staff.
  • As mentioned above in the Discovery Middle School Period Schedule for 2014-15, Middle School teachers’ class periods are 44 minutes in duration.  One period is extended for announcements to 49 minutes in duration.  Middle School teachers teach five periods a day (49 + 44 + 44 + 44 + 44 = 225 minutes per day).  In addition, Middle School teachers have 34 minutes per day of student contact in Advisory.  The total minutes of student contact for a middle school teacher is 259 minutes per day.
  • Under DRAFT 25, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, Middle School teachers’ class periods will be 50 minutes in duration.  Middle School teachers teach five periods a day (50 + 50 + 50 + 50 + 50 = 250 minutes per day).  In addition, Middle School teachers will have 9 minutes per day of student contact in Advisory.  The total minutes of student contact for a middle school teacher will be 259 minutes per day.
  • Under DRAFT 25, on Wednesday, Middle School teachers’ class periods will be 45 minutes in duration.  Middle School teachers teach five periods a day (45 + 45 + 45 + 45 + 45 = 225 minutes per day).  In addition, Middle school teachers will have 34 minutes of student contact in Advisory.  The total minutes of student contact for a middle school teacher on Wednesday will be 259 minutes per day.

Will Middle School staff be required to teach an intervention or extension during period 8?

  • No, Middle School staff will not be required to teach an intervention or extension during period 8.
  • The Middle School principals, the district’s Multi-Tier System of Support (MTSS) facilitators, district office staff, and FPS teaching staff will continue to design the protocol for the interventions and extensions that will be provided to students during period 8.
  • The protocol will include:
    • How students will be identified for structured interventions or extensions
    • The types of structured interventions or extensions needed
    • The duration of the structured interventions or extensions for students
    • Who will provide the structured interventions or extensions to students
    • What compensation will be provided to individuals who choose to provide structured interventions or extensions

What still needs to happen for implementation in the fall of 2015?
Administration is carrying out the following items to prepare for implementation of the revised Middle School schedule for the 2015-16 school year:

  • Meet with principals to see what, if any, changes will be needed to start times at the Elementary and Middle School to accommodate the recommendation.
  • Work with FPS transportation coordinator to determine changes to bus routes.
  • Meet with music staff to discuss their questions and concerns.
  • Develop curriculum writing projects for changes to the courses and new courses.
  • Continue to work with activities coordinators to schedule games and events after the Intervention/Extensions and Large Group Music time is over.
  • Work with Middle School principals and FPS Multi-Tier System of Support facilitators to develop protocols for the Intervention and Extension time.
  • Make budget adjustments needed to accommodate the change in Middle School schedule.
  • Develop communication process to be shared with parents and students.