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New kindergarten program in Hancock is working for students and district

One of the keys to a good education is to get a solid base. Good learning patterns need to be established at an early age along with identifying any problem areas early. With this in mind, the Hancock School has focused some extra attention on the very youngest students this year adding classes, teachers and special programs. At their meeting last week the board learned just how successful this strategy has been.

Kindergarten teacher Ashley Christiansen reported to the board on the progress of the new kindergarten program. Prior to the start of this school year the board had approved a three day kindergarten week with the option of tuitioning for a fourth day and then offering a remedial day for students who need a little extra time to establish their learning base.

For the first half of the year Christiansen had 22 students in kindergarten on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesday she had eleven students who attended paying a tuition. On Thursday, the remedial day, there have been ten students with the focus on literacy skills. These students were recommended for the class through testing and evaluation.

Christiansen recently re-tested all the kindergarten students using the AIMS screening of letter naming and sound fluency and the NWEA skills Test/Survey w/Goals for reading. The students who were under 30 percent for the NWEA target or showed little letter naming and sound fluency were encouraged to attend this course. After the new testing she recommended that two students be added to the remedial class and two students removed.

With Christiansen teaching kindergarten full-time the board also approved the hiring of a pre-school teacher and moved the class to the former art room. This is working out well with Tanya Fischer teaching 20 pre-schoolers, three days a week. Christiansen added that these students along with others from the area eligible for kindergarten next year, will be invited to a Kindergarten Round-up this spring so they can see what the program is all about in Hancock.

Going even a little younger in the education program, Christiansen told the board that the ECFE group this year is quite large and active. On one night she had 34 children and 26 adults. She has been utilizing the assistance of community members in teaching for some of these classes which fits in with the Strategic Plan.

New officers

The school board will now be under the leadership of Ken Feuchtenberger who was elected board chair at the meeting. Former chairman Rob Schmidgall chose not to serve in that capacity wanting to give someone else that experience. Rod Peterson was elected clerk the position formerly held by Feuchtenberger. Randy Reese will remain as treasurer. Schmidgall was thanked for his service.

The board also made committee appointments for 2010 as follows:

MSBA Legislative Liaison - Feuchtenberger and Joel Flaten

MW Sp Ed Co-op Board - Flaten

MSHSL Rep - Reese

Health & Safety Board - Peterson

Community Ed Board - Flaten

LCSC Rep - Reese

Teacher Negotiations - Feuchtenberger and Schmidgall

Classified Salaries - Flaten and Peterson

Admin. Negotiations - Reese and Barry Nelson

Finance Committee - Schmidgall, Flaten and Reese

Strategic Planning Committee - Feuchtenberger, Flaten and Nelson

Athletic Co-op Committee - Schmidgall, Feuchtenberger and Nelson

Other board action

• The board received two bids for the asbestos removal in regard to replacing the boilers. The bid from MAAC for $9,800 was approved.

• The school calendar was adjusted to make up for two snow days. The first snow day will be made up on Feb. 15 and the second on March 8. The March 8 date was initially set up as an in-service day for teachers. The in-service time will be held by dismissing school early on two days in March. The days have yet to be determined.

• The school has been approached by a Green Corp Group to set up a recycling program at the school. Nicole Schmidt and Ashley Christiansen volunteered to lead the effort for the school and will meet with staff to set up the plan.

• Supt. Jerry Martinson reported that he was asked to have representatives of the Hancock school board meet with the C-A school board about sports pairing. C-A will also be meeting with other schools on the same night. This meeting took place on Feb. 3.

• The board approved three open enrollment requests, accepted the donation of a flag from Zach Flaten and a donation to Little League from the Firemen's Relief Fund and approved child care leave for Kayla Rinkenberger.

The next regular board meeting will be held on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.