Block schedule earning praise

FAIRMONT – The Fairmont School Board is getting positive feedback from teachers and students about the modified block schedule for some of the junior high classes.

“They like it,” English teacher Sara Gudahl told the board Tuesday.

Gudahl and Anne Holm, who teaches science, use the block schedule as part of their curriculum. They meet with their classes every other day for two class periods, instead of the usual one class period every day.

Holm noted she is in the same place in her curriculum as this time last year, but the expanded classes have allowed her to incorporate more labs and hands-on activities.

Gudahl admitted there was some initial skepticism about the block schedule, but both instructors and students have adapted.

The two teachers polled their students to find out their opinions, and they presented these findings to the board.

Of 130 students responding to the statement that their “learning has been positively affected by the block schedule,” 109 answered affirmatively.

An overwhelming majority of students say a block class format allows them to pay attention better, and they like having more time to get through the content, which enables them to learn better.

One student’s comment on the survey summed up the general feelings of the teachers and pupils: “I think the stuff we learn stays in our heads better with the block, and I also like how we have time to do activities and tests in the same day.”

Turning to another matter, the board received a report of a “clean” audit from Craig Popenhagen of CliftonLarsonAllen, the district’s auditor.

Popenhagen noted the district’s “strong programs” in vocational instruction, spending about $220 per student, compared to about $100 per student in other districts of the same size.

In other business, the board:

o Congratulated Roni Dauer, who received the Region 2 Community Educator Excellence Award from the Minnesota Community Education Association. Dauer has been with Fairmont CER for 39 years and currently serves as the program director.

o Approved employment of Cynthia Gail as a long-term substitute art teacher at the high school, effective Dec. 10 through June 2.

o Accepted donations of $400 from the Fairmont Police Officers Association to support the second-grade field trip to the Como Zoo; $400 from the Fairmont Police Officers Association to support the sixth-grade field trip to the State Capitol; $500 for Fairmont Elementary School from the 3M Corporation, in appreciation of the volunteer hours served by Doug Hoffmann, retired 3M employee; $2,000 from the Martin County Youth Foundation to host parent/kindergarten learning activities at Fairmont Elementary School; $1,300 from the Martin County Youth Foundation for CER’s Lights on for Kids program.

o Set its next meeting for 5 p.m. Dec. 10 at City Hall, with a truth-in-taxation meeting to follow at 6 p.m.