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Verndale school board ponders strategic plan

Misty Uselman, left, and Samantha Ruter gave the District 818 board the proposed itinerary of the Verndale senior class trip May 21-23 to the North Shore of Lake Superior. Advisor Edward Holmes also introduced the students.

The Verndale School Board may be changing the district's strategic plan after a lengthy debate on the subject at Monday's monthly meeting.

New board member Jeremy Schwartz asked his fellow board members if the public should be involved in working up a new plan. Questions for the public would have to be developed. The board decided to hold a retreat to study the question Monday, April 12, from 6-9 p.m. Dean of Students Justin Sperling indicated he would work on a mission plan for the meeting.

Board member Bill Blaha, who has worked with such plans, pointed out that a strategic plan requires a "ton of effort" and that the board should be ready to shoulder the load. Board member Tony Glenz said he would only undertake a plan if it gets completed.

"We have to follow it through," Glenz said. "If we don't I don't want to be part of it."

A strategic plan collects input from parents, administrators, teachers, students and the community. It looks at all aspects from financial conditions to student achievement. It also looks at reform initiatives undertaken in other districts and their experiences. It seeks to identify major issues.

According to Sperling, the district has received several grants during the year and wants to make sure that it can maximize the training and resources attained in these grants. This is best done by creating common goals and visions of how these can be sustained when the grant dollars are gone.

"A strategic plan will lay out our plan of how to fully implement and sustain our initiatives," Sperling said.

District 818 will not be paying an independent firm to assist in this process, but it may look for input from other districts that have taken similar steps.

Verndale has a student population of 470 with more than 40 percent open-enrolled from other districts.

The board also instructed Sperling to put a cell phone use policy together for it to review. Sperling presented the board with the policies of neighboring districts. He also pointed out that in some prep and college class rooms at other schools, teachers encourage students to interact with white board technology using their cell phones.

Online learning offerings and their expenses through the Freshwater Education District were reviewed. Verndale has had 25 students taking online courses. Online learning calls for good keyboarding and writing skills and self-motivation. It can be a substantial saving on college tuition costs.

Graduation requirements for the class of 2010-11 will be higher. Presently, a minimum of 72 credits earned in the top four grades are needed for graduation. That number will increase to 75.

Misty Uselman and Samantha Ruter gave the board the itinerary of their senior class trip May 21-23 to Minnesota's North Shore. At present, 26 seniors and four chaperones are making the trip.

The popular summer food program was approved for this summer. Expenses last summer came to $10,381.42. The program had an income of $10,769.58.

The board elected to retain the accounting firm of Carlson-Highland for the school's annual audit.

The board approved Superintendent Paul Brownlow's recommendation that Greg Johnson be hired for the summer recreation director position.