A FEW NOTES
As usual, there are a lot of things happening across the district. We are at the point of the year, already, that the fall student activities are either into post-season competition or the regular season is drawing to a close. Some of the winter activities seasons will soon be underway.
With all the things happening across the district, I would like to highlight just a few items as updates and notes about the district.
As many people are aware, the ROCORI High School site has been honored by U.S. News as a Bronze level school of excellence. A good share of the reason for the honor is the academic success of the school.
As we started the school year, we received information from the American College Testing (ACT) organization about the performance of our students last spring. During the testing last year, we had 182 students, graduates last spring, engage in ACT testing! This is the highest participation rate the district has ever had and involved virtually all of the senior class.
The students, overall, performed very well. Our students performed higher than the state average overall and in Science and Math. Our Reading and English scores were at about the same level as the state average.
In regard to college readiness (benchmark scores to indicate if students are ready for college-level coursework), our students performed above the state averages in College English Composition, College Algebra and College Biology.
We are pleased to report that ROCORI High School students, as measured by the results of the ACT, have continued to perform to very high levels. With the large number of students participating, the student results indicate a very successful high school academic setting.
We received information from the National School Safety Center recently. The Center, in collaboration with the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) and the New York State School Boards Association, have created a publication called Talking to Kids About School Safety. Each of our buildings will be sharing information from this publication through newsletters and electronic processes.
The publication is a structured questionnaire and discussion guide. The goal is to help adults, and especially parents, to have a meaningful discussion with students about things that make them feel safe or unsafe at school. The publication has excellent tools to be used at school, in the classroom, or in the privacy of home.
The publication has been shared in our buildings and discussions are unfolding about how the information will be used within the school setting. But, we also want to let parents and community members know about the tool to encourage conversations about school safety! School safety is an important value and we want to encourage conversations about the topic.
EDUCATION MINNESOTA BREAK
This week marks the annual fall teacher conference sponsored by Education Minnesota. The calendar traditionally reflects a two-day break for students in order to allow teachers the opportunity to attend the state-wide educator conference.
The state conference is typically held in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Members of the teaching staff who attend do so of their own professional interests and at their own expense. There is no requirement for teachers to attend the conference, but the calendar allows any or all staff members the opportunity to attend.
I have been asked, in the past, about the days in relation to teacher contracts—and why there is not a requirement to attend the conference. The Master Agreement between the District and our teachers defines the school year as consisting of 182 days of employment. We do not count the two days of the break within the contracted days—thus the district does not and could not require attendance.
On the other hand, if we conducted school on the two days, it would be impossible for teachers to take advantage of the professional development opportunity. The end result is that we acknowledge the conference by releasing students and staff from school, but it is an individual teacher’s decision about whether to attend the conference or not.
TOBACCO-FREE BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS
The ROCORI Schools are a tobacco-free school district. Although many people know and understand this regarding the indoor spaces and buildings, it does not appear that the public understands that it applies across all of the school grounds!
As with many public spaces, it is pretty easily understood that indoor air quality issues and state laws prohibit smoking inside public buildings. Schools are not unique as the smoke-free zones include hotels, libraries, bars, restaurants, stores, and many other buildings. Most people, because of the widespread nature, understand and respect that school buildings are smoke and tobacco free.
The ROCORI School District policy extends the tobacco and smoke-free expectation to all of our grounds, vehicles, and spaces of the district. This does not seem to be quite as clearly understood, but it is the district policy. All buildings and grounds of the ROCORI School District are tobacco and smoke-free.
GIVE TO THE MAX
Across the state of Minnesota, non-profit organizations look toward a statewide event known as “Give to the Max” Day. This fall, the date is scheduled for Thursday, November 17.
A flyer that I recently received from the statewide organization indicates that 2016 is the eighth year of the Give to the Max campaign. The ROCORI School District has been an identified organization for probably five of the eight years.
Give to the Max day is an organized effort to encourage “nonprofits, schools and funders to ignite generosity and make giving fun for donors.” Donors have, through this organized effort, given more than $140 million to Minnesota organizations since 2009!
We will share more information about Give to the Max day as we draw closer to the November 17 onlne fundraiser. We would encourage community members to mark the day on the calendar to help remember the event!