L-C School District engages community in future planning
Preparing students for college and careers has changed drastically in the 21st century, and Luxemburg-Casco School District and its community wants to be at the forefront of preparing their students to excel after high school, District Administrator Glenn Schlender told a group of 80 community members recently.
Since May 2015, the school district and its communities have been engaged in a “community conversation” to develop a plan for the future of the Luxemburg and Casco schools, Schlender said..
“It’s a good idea to engage our community with our school district because everyone benefits,” said Schlender. “It’s also important to report back and say this is how we are doing and get feedback.”
So on May 18, approximately 80 community members, including parents, residents, students and educators met at St. John’s Lutheran Church to review the strategies developed from last year’s conversation and review what had been accomplished.
Ten strategies were voted on by the community last year and the school district has been working to implement them, Schlender said..
They included developing a strategic facility plan, exploring options for the middle school building, technology upgrades, a community fitness center and gymnasium, and partnerships with businesses, community and higher education. The group also wanted to ensure quality teachers, methods, training and retention, upgrade its technical facility, machines and programs, and improve communications with the community..
In April, the school district held a community forum for a proposal to have Nexus Solutions, an energy services company that helps school districts upgrade their facilities, address $8.6 million worth of facility needs, which will include improving energy efficiency at school facilities.
According to Schlender, Nexus works to accomplish this through four methods: energy savings, operation and maintenance savings, district funding and small revenue limit exemptions.
Following the forum, the school board approved a letter of intent on May 16 to enter into the contract with Nexus. The company will also propose alternative instruction purposes for the middle school in Casco, to be formulated over the next year, Schlender said.
“Phase three of this project is for a proposed referendum to upgrade facilities not addressed by the performance contract, such as a new gymnasium and tech ed facilities,” Schlender told the group. Plans for a fitness center and new gymnasium are also part of the long-range facilities’ plan, he said.
Principal Adam Kurth told the group about progress that had been made in technology upgrades, which includes providing every student from grade three through 12 with a Chromebook through the “One to World” program by this fall. The program will use new and existing Chromebooks provided through the school district’s budget.
“Students will have full access to technology every day,” said Kurth. “They can prepare for their college career and the technology will level the playing field for students who cannot afford it,” he said.
The new technology may also allow students to have ZSpace interactive technology, which uses 3-D glasses and holograms for learning experiences like dissecting frogs and studying human anatomy, Kurth said.
“The goal is for Luxemburg-Casco to be a leader in the use of technology,” he said.
While 30 to 40 percent of students enrolling in technical school after high school, there still is a strong need for students to improve their “soft skills,” such as how to act in an interview, participate on a team, engage in a meeting, etc, said Kurth.
One way to address this will be through the creation of a Spartan Careers Academy, in which high school students will run their own business, managing everything from the creation of a product, selecting students for certain jobs, designing a Web site for the product and marketing it, he said.
Earlier in May, the school held a meeting with local businesses that would be interested in partnering with the school on different levels, he said.
The businesses may help students design and build a “tiny house” beginning this fall that will require architectural design, plumbing, electricity, selling and many other career skills.
The school is also working to train teachers to better meet the needs of struggling students and students who are gifted, said Michael Snowberry, middle school principal and curriculum director.
A Learning Leadership Team is updating curriculum in all subjects with a pilot program for language arts, reading and writing scheduled to begin in the 2017-2018 school year, he said.
Snowberry said that the school district has already seen “huge” improvements from better teacher training and curriculum development. Average ACT test scores improved one full point from last year to this year, he said.
In addition, the school has added college readiness courses, including Advanced Placement (AP) courses in language, US History and Human Geography.
Jolene Hussong, intermediate school principal, reported that the school district has enhanced communications with a new community newsletter called “The Spartan Impact” and a newsletter for high school parents called “The Spartan Scoop.”
Mike Van Ess, who has three students at the schools, agreed that communication is better.
“It’s been like night and day,” he said.
Following the presentations on the school district’s progress, Schlender asked the community group to provide feedback on the progress made this year and prioritize a list of items for the school district to consider moving forward for 2016-2017.
“The feedback was overwhelming positive,” he said.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: L-C School District engages community in future planning