Looking ahead to 2013: EducationSpanish immersion makes it to high school; District 833 levy renewal a possibility; District 833 School Board election; MSA expansion; District 834 seeking levy renewal
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Spanish immersion makes it to high school
It’s been almost nine years since District 833 first started its Spanish immersion program, and 2013 will see it enter the high schools.
The first class of Spanish immersion students, who entered kindergarten in 2004, will start high school in the fall of 2013 at Woodbury High School.
The four-year program at WHS will complete the K-12 immersion pathway.
Currently the Spanish Immersion program is housed at Nuevas Fronteras, which is housed at Crestview Elementary, and at Cottage Grove Middle School.
The Spanish immersion program is for children whose parents want them to be bilingual. All classes, except art, music and physical education are taught in Spanish.
In the high school immersion program, the current two-class program per trimester in Spanish will continue with language and culture in each grade. Ninth-graders will also study human geography, world history in 11th grade, American history as juniors and be in a capstone program as seniors, all in Spanish.
In the capstone, students do research throughout the year on topics they choose, in collaboration with teachers, to fully explore and interpret data in real life situations as preparation for learning in college.
Four years of math will be offered but only three are required.
No busing to Woodbury will be offered just as it’s not available to students who opt to transfer to a school outside their assigned attendance boundary.
The high school Spanish immersion will begin the 2013-14 school year.
WHS Principal Linda Plante will be overseeing the program. District 833, Plante and the other two Spanish immersion program principals will develop the curriculum.
District 833 levy renewal a possibility
One of the district’s levies, totaling $3.4 million, or $164.38, is scheduled to expire in 2013.
The 2013-14 school year will be the last year it will be in effect if a renewal is not requested.
Currently District 833 School Board is having discussion on whether or not to renew the levy, to amend it, or not seek renewal.
The district’s other two levies expire in 2014 and 2017.
A current decision has not been reached, said district Communications Director Barb Brown, since many factors need to be considered including the result of this year’s legislative session.
District 833 School Board must make a decision on whether or to seek renewal by the end of August. However, School Board members are hoping to reach a decision earlier than that, Brown said. If a levy renewal is sought, it will be included on the Nov. 5 ballot.
District 833 School Board will decide on the levy and voters could choose whether or not to approve the amount.
District 833 School Board election
A total of five District 833 School Board seats will be up for election in 2013.
That will include whoever is appointed to outgoing School Board Member Leslee Boyd’s seat. The appointee’s seat will be up for re-election in November. Boyd notified District 833 School Board in October that she was resigning because she will be moving to Oklahoma where her husband has a new job.
School Board members up for re-election are Marsha Adou, Tracy Burnnette, Laurie Johnson and David Kemper.
The finalists being interviewed for appointment to Boyd’s vacant seat are: Rick Goecke and William Thurmes, of Cottage Grove; Jonathan Hunt and Daryl Parks, of Woodbury; and Newport resident Katy McElwee-Stevens, who previously served on the School Board.
Five applicants will be interviewed on Jan. 4 for the vacant School Board seat. The 2013 District 833 School Board election will be Nov. 5.
The Math and Science Academy’s new 30,400 square-foot building will include a regulation-size gymnasium, locker rooms with showers, 10 new classrooms and a large band room. The project should cost about $5 million, whereas the total bonds issued should be between $10 and $10.5 million to pay existing debt.
The new gymnasium will bring physical education classes, currently being held at the YMCA of Woodbury, back to the school. Basketball games, volleyball games and even graduation, which is currently held at Central Park, could also be added at the new gym.
The new expansion will also benefit MSA’s music and theater program since the gymnasium will also include a stage.
Construction is expected to be completed early this summer so that classes can begin in the addition on Sept. 3.
Math and Science Academy Board of Directors are handling the project, whereas staff and students will benefit from the project.
District 834 seeking levy renewal
District 834’s operating levy is set to expire in November of 2013.
The operating levy, which is roughly $11 million, is $965 per student.
If the levy should fail, District 834 would be tasked with cutting $11 million from its budget.
“The $6 million from last year was kind of the ceiling that was based on projections – that’s like your electric bill,” Superintendent Corey Lunn said. “Now the $11 million is like your salary or your paycheck – it’s based on the number of kids you have.”
As a way to increase voter support, District 834 is working to increase its transparency.
One way the district is doing this is by streaming School Board meetings online and linking all related documents to the video.
The online videos are also searchable.
“Our district kind of got away from connecting and engaging our community over the last many years,” Lunn said. “That’s going to be important for our future, so we want to be as transparent as we can.”
For the levy discussions, a number of “cost center” groups have been established.
The cost centers will be tasked with compiling a list of what the investments are for the $11 million levy.
Each cost center will be reviewing topics including elementary school, junior high school, high school and transportation.
Lunn said if the levy is not renewed, or increased, the district must make additional cuts.
“Last year we tried not to impact the kids,” he said. “This time it doesn’t matter what we do because it’s going to get down deep enough to get the classroom no matter how hard we try.”
The cost centers’ investment lists for the $11 million levy will be done by February. The School Board is hoping to make a decision on the levy renewal in March. If District 834 should seek a levy renewal, voters will decide on it at the Nov. 5 election.
Key players in the levy proposal will be District 834 School Board, District 834 voters and District 834 cost center participants.