Marion board hears pathways challenges

The Marion-Florence Board of Education learned about concerns and challenges involved with implementing the new career cluster pathways initiative at its June 13 meeting.

Mark Meyer, agri-science teacher at Marion High School and a member of the career and technology education committee, addressed the board about career counseling for levels kindergarten through 12th grade.

?Career choice is one of the most important decisions a student can make,? he said. ?But the reality is we?ve gone from a full-time position at the high school to less than full-time.?

Meyer said one of the key aspects about the career cluster pathways is that students develop a five-year plan for high school and beyond.

The career and technology education committee, he said, is hoping this plan would be addressed at the middle school level and be ready for ninth-grade enrollment.

?The majority of a student?s high school electives should be in their chosen career pathway or related to that,? Meyer said.

Another topic he said the committee felt strongly about was making the computer applications course a requirement for graduation.

?It?s our role to prepare students for what they?re going to do beyond high school,? Meyer said. ?In this day and age students need to be able to use technology.?

The theme of technology also brought into question the keyboarding skills of high school students.

Meyer said he recommended that typing sections be taught at the elementary and middle schools.

Missy Stubenhoffer, Marion Middle School principal, said the middle school is implementing a six-week program to teach seventh and eighth graders proper typing skills.

Buying new computers

The board approved Superintendent Lee Leiker?s recommendation to purchase up to $75,000 worth of new computers and technology. The district has about $31,000 in federal grant money that is eligible to be used toward technology and needs to be spent by January, Leiker said.

The local option budget fund would cover the remaining $44,000.

?I think this purchase would go a long way toward updating our technology,? Leiker said. ?I know it?s a lot and it?s hard to do, but it?s also very frustrating for students when it takes 10 to 15 minutes for things to load up. We need to keep technology where it?s effective and useful for students.?

Other business

In other business, the board:

? heard Lyle Leppke report that the state found more money for special education. Leppke told the board that the Marion County Special Education Cooperative board had decided to give back 6 percent of each district?s assessment for the year, which for Marion was about $18,500.

? received a check for $190 from Mary Harrison of St. Luke Hospital. The check was based on 19 students from USD 408 who received their sports physicals from the clinic on ?Physical Day? June 7.

? approved changes to the high school and middle school handbooks.

Principal Tod Gordon explained changes made to the MHS handbook. These changes included adding the school fight song, updating the directory and removing the mandatory study hall for failing students.

Stubenhoffer also removed the mandatory study period from the middle school handbook.

? unanimously approved ratifying negotiations for the 2011-12 school year.

? approved a two-year extension of Leiker?s contract.

? approved hiring Shana Jolliff as the K-12 instrumental music teacher. She will also do some vocal instruction at the elementary school.

? approved hiring Doug Vogel as assessment assistant.

? set the MHS principal?s salary at $72,180 and the MMS principal?s salary at $53,000.

? approved student attendance at an FFA leadership retreat in Colorado Aug. 4-9.

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