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Verndale's AYP improving; cell phones discussed

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The Verndale School Board covered 21 items in their busy July meeting Monday night ranging from hiring teachers to establishing a new policy regarding the use of cell phones.

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In discussing revisions to the student handbook, the board addressed the policy of cell phone camera use by students.

Board member Bill Blaha pointed out that there is a lot of litigation under way because of the inappropriate use of cell phone cameras. Verndale students are allowed to carry cell phones during the day but they must be turned off during class time. Principal Justin Sperling wants students to have the use of cell phones in a classroom if they are being used for class work with the knowledge of the teacher.

Sperling introduced the Verndale Public School

Assessment Report for 2009-2010 and reflected on the test scores. The state of Minnesota issues the report. Schools must meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements or come up with working strategies for dealing with problem areas. AYP is part of the federal government's "No Child Left Behind" Act. Students are tested on their reading and math skills.

The assessment report showed that Verndale has a 74 percent reading proficiency while the state had a 72 percent average. Verndale students had a 61 percent proficiency in math while the state average was 66 percent. Four years ago, Verndale students were 50 percent proficient in math while students statewide were 61 percent proficient.

"As a district we got out of AYP Reading," Sperling said. He also pointed out that the district has "one foot out the door" in secondary math and in elementary reading and math. Elementary reading and special education math test scores must still be improved.

"There are groups that made gain but there things for us to feel good about, our students and families to feel good about, our teachers to feel good about and for us to feel good about the programs we have in place but at the same time we should take a look at things we have to

address," Sperling said.

Kari McNeil (long-term elementary substitute), Becky Ludovissie (school readiness), Maria Uselman (teaching assistant), Jordan Hinkle (B-squad football) and Jed Carlson (B-squad basketball) were all hired. The board tabled the matter of hiring a part-time parent educator. It accepted the resignation of long-time secretary and book keeper Lois Gould, who will retire from her position Feb. 28, 2011. On Sept. 16, Gould will mark her 34th year at Verndale. She has volunteered to train her replacement.

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