Elementary school report cards under scrutiny

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 12, 2001

The Austin Board of Education and administration are fine-tuning the reports used for children in grades K-5.

Tuesday, June 12, 2001

The Austin Board of Education and administration are fine-tuning the reports used for children in grades K-5.

Email newsletter signup

Sue Roehrich, director of educational services for the district, reviewed the progress made on updating the K-5 report cards at Monday night’s meeting at the Austin Municipal Building.

According to Roehrich, the review began in January, when elementary principals met to discuss the process. Paul Besel, Neveln Elementary School principal, was appointed chairman of the group.

A month later, the report card formats were reviewed and the possibility of electronic reporting examined.

The process moved forward until May, when teaching staff was involved in examining the possible formats.

A month ago, the final formats were studied and the curriculum advisory committee added "specialist" markings a week ago prior to Monday night’s examination by the school board members.

School board member Kathy Green said she wants a report card that is "very self-explanatory" to families. Green called the report card a "communications tool."

Specifically, Green was critical of one of the possible grading narratives: "Not yet." This is intended to mean that "the child cannot demonstrate a skill, or area of knowledge or a specific set of behaviors or accomplishments because the child has not acquired them," according to Roehrich.

Green said the "not yet" grading was "not yet very clear to me."

Roehrich said educators considered how it would be regarded by families. She said a narrative box for additional information could help explain any "not yet" markings.

School board member Richard Lees shared Green’s concern, however. "not yet" is still very ambiguous to me," he said.

Roehrich defended the revisions to K-5 report cards as an "improvement over what we had before."

The process of review will continue.

In other action Monday night, the Austin school board:

Approved Back to School conference plans to begin in the

fall. According to Mary C. Giese, Southgate Elementary School

principal and chair of the committee formed to organized the

special conferences, the goal is to open communications between

parents and their children’s teachers, while also providing an

opportunity for parents and teachers to share information to

help guarantee a productive school year.

The conferences will debut in August for Ellis Middle School families and in early September for all elementary school families.

Approved the lease purchase agreement for the Qualified Zone

Academy Bond loan to finance the massive, districtwide energy

conservation projects being undertaken by Siemen’s Building Technologies.

According to Lori Volz, director of financial services, the lease

will bear no interest and require principal payments over 14


The annual payments will be deposited into a sinking fund with an investment return of 3.5 percent and earnings of $489.125. Hormel Foods Corp. was praised for its willingness to form a business partnership with the district to help Austin Public Schools obtain the QZAB loan. The annual principal payments will be funded through anticipated energy conservation savings and a small capital outlay payment, according to Volz.

n Approved worker’s compensation insurance coverage from the Minnesota School Boards Association Insurance Trust for the 2001-2002 school year with a premium of $81,532. According to Volz, the district will save $20,988 in premiums plus have the potential of a refund of about $25,000, during the 2001-2002 school year. The district’s current worker’s compensation carrier had quoted $124,519 for a renewal premium which replaced a 21 percent increase.

Call Lee Bonorden at 434-2232 or e-mail him at lee.bonorden@austindailyherald.com.