Austin schools changing

Published 10:35 am Friday, September 7, 2012

The summer of 2012 is almost over with the start of the school year now underway; oh wait, Sumner Elementary students returned to school on July 31 along with three sections of Woodson kindergarten students. That one sentence says a lot about the fact that schools in Austin are changing.

We are working hard to better meet the needs of our students and Sumner Elementary is a great example. The results from last spring’s testing show that Sumner students made the largest gains in the district due to many reasons which include their innovative staff, the new schedule, and the piloting of new language arts curriculum.

Sumner Elementary students showed a gain of more than 5.6 percent in reading proficiency and 24.7 percent in math proficiency, well above the increases across the state. We will be implementing new reading curriculum in all of our elementary schools this year for grades kindergarten through fourth. Along with reading implementation, we will also be implementing a new agriculture curriculum at the high school that focuses on the business of agriculture, not just the science of farming.

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Another initiative at Austin High School will be in the advanced placement biology course. Students will be provided an experience they normally would not be given until their junior year of college. The students in the course will be able to work alongside scientists and doctors at Hormel’s Research and Development, The Hormel Institute, Mayo Clinic Health System-Austin and Austin Packaging two days a week in an apprenticeship role to see how the science they are learning in the classroom is applied in life. These are just a few of the initiatives beginning this next school year.

Along with these school improvements, we are in the third and final phase of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades in the district with Woodson Kindergarten Center and Southgate Elementary receiving new boilers and air handling equipment. With the passage of the bond referendum last fall, work has been completed on the addition of six classrooms at Woodson and the wireless infrastructure upgrades to all district buildings while work also continues on the new 5/6 school that will open in the fall of 2013.

I want to thank the community for your continued support of Austin Schools; our children could not achieve their dreams without the community’s willingness to provide quality schools.