Community Opinion

A Super’s Take on Education

The Langdon Area School Board and administration took part in a retreat to discuss a variety of topics. Some of the things we discussed were part of day-to-day business and our regular requirements.

By Daren Christianson

Superintendent Langdon Area School

The principals reported on a new process that both buildings are going to start this fall called MTSS or Multi-Tiered Support Systems. This is a research-proven process to assist students who struggle in a variety of areas from academic issues to social and behavioral issues. This process uses a team approach to solve, plan for and deal with issued that arise or are identified.

We discussed the extensive committee work that our teachers do in efforts to provide the best education for our students and to plan continual improvement.

We discussed some of the overall academic goals of our district and what we are doing to achieve those goals. We have been working on writing across the curriculum and have identified that the writing skills of our students need to be improved. We need to be intentional about what we are doing with writing. We discussed our math goal in having as many of our 8th grade students ready to enroll in algebra as 8th graders and not as freshmen. There has been planning and discussion between the elementary and high school buildings as to what is required to reach this goal. We believe that students who can be prepared for algebra their 8th grade year rather than their freshman year will have a greater level of exposure to upper level math prior to them taking the ACT and then, in turn, will score higher on their ACT thus qualifying them for more scholarship opportunities. The last overall academic goal is to ensure that we utilize our assessment data to drive the curricular decisions that we make across the district, whether it be new textbooks or the teaching philosophies that we promote and require.

Another topic that created a lot of discussion was the community’s intent to keep, maintain and update the elementary building. Prior to my arrival, past boards and administration surveyed the public to determine if they should add on to the high school and move everyone into one building or if money should be invested into the current elementary school building. The survey information indicating that the public wanted the board to maintain the elementary structure. Since that time the district has been investing $100,000-150,000 in that site each of the last three years. We have invested in new lockers and cabinetry throughout the building, and this current summer we conducted an asbestos abatement in the tunnels along with a sewer pipe reline project totaling over $130,000. We currently have a 3-mill building fund that generates a little over $100,000 a year that we have been using to cover the costs of the projects at the elementary school and building issues at both sites and spending down the currently building fund. As we look forward, we see more needs at the elementary school site that will not be able to be covered with the 3-mill building fund. The district has maintained the old heating system, but it is still the original system from when the building was constructed. We feel that before an overall system failure happens we need to plan for a replacement of the heating system with addition of air conditioning to provide the optimal environment for our students and staff to perform at their highest level. We also feel that the current lunchroom/cafeteria is not a very effective physical education area or a very good cold-weather recess area. With that belief, we are going to start exploring the costs associated with doing those two projects and how they can be funded. There is question on where a new physical education facility would be placed, and we don’t have any hard answers to that question. I will be contacting the park board and the city to see what options may be available for our students. As we look at funding such a project, we would look to the state legislature as they generally set aside some funds for low interest construction loans, and the board would mostly likely look at bringing a vote to the people to increase the building fund to cover the payment along with current upkeep and maintenance needs.

We have been blessed with a stable enrollment and many new babies have been born in our area the last few years. We now have two teachers in every grade level in our elementary school along with two teachers in all the core areas in the high school. We continue to work hard at meeting each of our students at the level they are learning at and developing plans to get all students performing at grade level.

Preparing and planning for the students that we have and the students we will get in the next few years is a continual process. By planning we hope we can make the decisions that are in the best interest or our school, community and students.

My door is open, and I will gladly field calls and questions. Feel free to contact me.