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School board OKs two new policies

Among the items discussed during the New Richmond School District Board of Education meeting on July 21, were the additions of two new policies as well an update on Educator Effectiveness from District Administrator Jeff Moberg.

The two policies the board approved during the meeting included policy 7530.02 – Staff Use of Personal Communication Devices and policy 8390 – Animals on District Property. Policy 7530.02 was added, according to Moberg, to ensure the district had a policy on the subject given the prominence of such devices in today’s world.

“If we didn’t have a policy on it we would be running a high risk of those devices being misused and us not having a policy on it,” Moberg said. “I feel like the important things to have in there was that we discourage the use of those devices while driving, since that is law, and to have something in there that talks about not using those devices for harassing or humiliating as well. And then we wanted to have something to outline the use of those devices that may start to impact workday productivity.”

The newly added Animals on District Property policy is meant to make sure students know when animals are and aren’t allowed at school.

“A lot of times people have tried to bring their pets to school, and it is just not a great environment to bring a pet into,” Moberg said. “There are too many students with allergies, and we can’t understand how the pets will react to an environment as busy as school. We do also need the flexibility to bring them in since we have small animal and large animal classes, so we restricted it unless it is approved by the building principal and tied to some purpose; either some demonstration is taking place in class or it is part of the class itself.”

The new policy covers all of the district properties, including all the schools and the sports facilities where the school teams play. The policy does allow for service animals to be used on school property.

Both policies were approved by the board by unanimous vote.

The board also approved the revisions to five current policies, including policy 5111.01 – Homeless Students, policy 5771 – Search and Seizure, policy 8330 – Student Records, policy 9150 – School Visitors and policy 9160 – Public Attendance at School Events. Revisions of the policies ranged from changing/updating the phrasing of a policy to adding lines to make a policy more clear and easier to understand.

In addition to the other topics discussed, Moberg gave the board updates from HealthPartners, as well as on the upcoming changes to the principal and teacher evaluations by way of Educator Effectiveness.

“As most of us know, Educator Effectiveness rolls out this year and it is a change in how staff are evaluated, both principals and teaching staff,” Moberg said. “I think it is very high quality, but I think it is very demanding and requires a lot of work to do well. It really does require a lot of training to implement well.”

Throughout this week, Moberg and all the principals in the district underwent training for Educator Effectiveness, including hours of watching teachers teaching classes in order to understand the new rubric and what things make a good teacher and where teachers can improve.

“We want to be able to implement this new program well this year so that we can get the appropriate benefit from it,” Moberg said. “You can’t have staff in so much anxiety over it that they can’t respond to the support and help you are trying to give. It is really a coaching model and that is how we’ve all framed it to the staff.”

According to Moberg, he and Director of Fiscal and Building Operations Brian Johnston recently met with HealthPartners, the school district’s health insurance provider, and the reports they were given were very positive.

“Some of the things that you will see in this report is that our absenteeism, presenteeism and productivity loss have all decreased,” Moberg said. “More staff reported feeling positive and having a significant decrease in feelings of depression and those things, which I thought were some of the really good things in the report.”

Despite the positives, the report from HealthPartners also said that there was still an area of health the school district could improve on.

“We still really need to tackle activity level and diet,” Moberg said. “Those are still areas we can help support our employees in engaging in healthier lifestyles.”

Other business

-- The board approved the resignations of five staff members.  

-- The board approved the hiring of 23 extracurricular positions for the 2014-15 school year, as well as the hiring of two paraeducators, a long-term sub, an eighth-grade language arts/literature teacher and an Early Childhood teacher.

-- The board approved the 2014-15 Middle School Handbook and also commented on its first read through of the 2014-15 High School Handbook and the 2014-15 Elementary Schools Handbook.

-- The board approved First Agency Inc. as the school’s student accident insurance provider, with coverage not to exceed $14,300.

-- The board approved a three-year bid from Stephens Sanitation to be the school’s sanitation provider at a cost of $40,320 per year.  

-- The board approved the addition of another high school math position.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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