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Students report less bullying after year of bullying prevention program

MORRIS – One year after implementing a district-wide anti-bullying program, students in the Morris Area School District report there are fewer students being bullied and more adults stepping in to help in bullying situations.

However, data indicates that students still don’t feel empowered to step in and help each other when it comes to bullying, Morris Area Elementary School Principal Ken Gagner told the Morris Area School Board on Tuesday.

“We definitely need more students to be willing to step in and help each other,” said Gagner. “When we meet as a committee, we always talk about that we have about 170 adults in the building and over 1,000 students – we cannot do this as a top down approach.”

Students in third through eleventh grades were surveyed at the beginning of the program in the spring of 2012, then again in the spring of 2013 to see if the program had changed attitudes or behaviors.

Although common locations for bullying – the playground, the lunchroom and the bus – had not changed, fewer students indicated that they have bullied others and fewer students said they were afraid of being bullied at school.

Going into the second year of the program, Gagner said the focus would be to continue staff training, increase community awareness of the program, check in on progress throughout the year, and survey students in spring 2014.

Board certifies preliminary max levy

The Morris Area School Board approved the maximum levy allowable, not a specific dollar amount, for their 2014 preliminary levy certification.

As of Tuesday, the district’s proposed 2014 levy was about $3.56 million, a 6.19 percent increase over 2013. 

“I believe this is going to change between now and December when you certify the final levy, and I don’t know if it will be more or less – I suspect it will be more, but I don’t know,” said Superintendent Scott Monson.

Monson said that delays getting calculations from the Minnesota Department of Education have caused some significant revisions up to this point. Delays have come because of changes enacted during the legislative session as well as adjustments because of the consolidation with the Cyrus School District. In December, the board will approve a dollar amount for the final levy.

Staff development money used to revamp curriculum

Staff members are using money allocated for staff development to attend trainings and revamp or develop new curriculum for students, Sue Hauger, district chair for staff development, told the board Tuesday during her annual presentation.

In the 2012 - 2013 school year, the district allocated $40,000 for staff development. That money is distributed throughout the district. Teachers also have the opportunity to apply for competitive grants to for a variety of activities that are normally completed over the summer. Grant applicants must show how the work connects to best practices in their discipline, Hauger said.

This year, 12 competitive grants were funded by the District Advisory Committee. Projects included developing a new journalism class at the high school, designing several new modules for physical education, redesigning the eighth and tenth grade health curriculum and developing an iPad program for special education at MAES.