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School board reviews improvement plan, approves leave of absence

The Morris Area School District has outlined steps it will take to once again be making Adequate Yearly Progress in reading.

Morris Area Superintendent Scott Monson reviewed plans with the district School Board at its meeting Monday night.

In the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years, the district failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress standards as spelled out in No Child Left Behind.

Special education students and Free and reduced lunch students missed "safe harbor" targets in those areas. As such the Department of Education requires the district to formulate a District Improvement Plan to address the missed targets.

The District Improvement Team met five times to put together an action plan and it was submitted to the Minnesota Department of Education on Nov. 9. The DIT is: Lori Boettcher, Amy Millard, Deb Peterson, Brad Korn, Shelley Messner, Andrea Pavlicek, Christine Gibson, Mike Coquyt, Jody Maanum and Monson.

The plan's approval with the state is pending, Monson said.

In other district business:

* Music teacher Trent Oberg requested and received a 3-1/2 year extended leave of absence. The board voted 4-2, with Jamie Solvie, Dick Metzger, Brent Fuhrman and Lory Lemke approving the leave, which is contingent on the district finding a suitable replacement. Stan Wulf and Kurt Gartland voted against it.

Oberg has taught in the district since 1996. While he will be leaving his teaching position, he will remain as the school's gymnastics coach. Oberg gave no specific public reason for requesting the leave, saying in a letter to Gartland that, "I have been part of numerous challenges within the district -- providing me with opportunities for growth and challenge. However, these challenges are beginning to affect my professional beliefs, my personal life and my family life."

The board stated that they believed granting the leave would be in the best interests of students and Oberg, but Gartland and Wulf said they disagreed with the length of time of the leave and worried about finding a suitable successor given the potentially impermanent nature of the position. Oberg can be reinstated after the 2013-2014 school year.