Tricounty News

KAHS names five to 2013 Hall of Fame

The fifth class of inductees to the Kimball Area High School Hall of Fame will be honored at halftime of this Friday’s football game between the Cubs and the Rockford Rockets. That’s Friday, Sept 13, and it’s the first home game of the season. A reception will be held after the game in the school cafetorium.

This year’s inductees will be: Duane Benoit, Scot Hille, Bill Liedman, Steve Rice, and Frank Schiefelbein III.


Senior citizens help mentor kids

New clothes are being bought, backpacks are being prepared, and buses are being boarded as children begin the journey of a new school year. They are not alone in their preparations; their anticipation and excitement is shared by 200 Foster Grandparent senior volunteers who will also be back serving in local schools, Head Starts, and other non-profit agencies.

At Kimball Elementary school, two local seniors volunteer as Foster Grandparents: Gwen Caird and Nancy Stanz. At St. Mary Help of Christians school in St. Augusta, Sharon Lauer also serves as a Foster Grandparent. Foster Grandparents often work with children to improve reading skills, increase their understanding of math concepts, and provide extra attention and support to those that are falling behind. These volunteers become role models for the students they mentor. Students are able to develop practical skills and a higher sense of self-worth.


Back to school!

Area schools began the school year Tuesday, Sept. 3. Eden Valley-Watkins has a total enrollment of 944 (544 elementary and 400 high school); Kimball has a total W-EVW-First-day-Debbie-K.-IMG 2268enrollment of 691 (359 elementary and 332 high school). Here's to a great 2013-14 school year!


Kimball school board: S.O.D. likely to be announced at September meeting

After having survived S.O.D. (statutory operating debt) eight years ago, the last thing the Kimball School District wants to hear is that it may happen again.

Superintendent John Tritabaugh announced at the Aug. 21 meeting that the financial audit of the district has been completed. The results will be announced at next month’s Sept. 18 meeting. Those results, he says, will probably include the fact that the district will be again in S.O.D., this time for the 2012-13 school year. The discrepancy is $150,000, about 4 percent deficit instead of the allowable 2.5 percent. The only way to avoid S.O.D. would have been to cut $150,000 from last year’s budget.

The problem, Tritabaugh says, is that revenue was lower than anticipated and it didn’t cover expenditures. 

Part of the problem, he says, is not having full classrooms. Having a sixth-grade class of 38 this year, for instance, with two classrooms of 16 students each, costs pretty much the same as a class of 50 with two classrooms of 25; the difference is that there’s more than $60,000 less revenue with the class of only 38 students.

The district has done several much-needed and long overdue maintenance projects, including replacing the elementary school gym floor and roof.

All agreed that they wouldn’t have done anything differently, that every spending decision was to make things better for students.

It’s a bit like finding out a year later that your checking account was overdrawn. 

The next step, once the S.O.D. status is official, will be working closely with the Minnesota Department of Education on a plan, probably a three-year plan, for the district to get out of S.O.D.


Enrollment numbers are still changing hourly as we approach the start of school but, as of the Aug. 21 meeting, they are a total of 679, with a breakdown as follows:

345 at the Elementary School: 56 kindergarten (53 full-time and 3 part-time), 51 first grade, 42 second grade, 58 third grade, 58 fourth grade, 42 fifth grade, and 38 sixth grade. 

334 at the high school: 67 seventh grade, 57 eighth grade, 46 freshmen, 45 sophomores, 62 juniors, and 57 seniors. 

Third grade was discussed, with a possible need for a third section. Second-grade teachers have indicated that a third section would be very helpful, but there are no funds for that at this time.

About 17 percent of KES students are “special needs,” and this year’s third-grade class have a high percentage of special needs students.

Flipped Classroom experiment

Veteran teacher Jason Mortenson used the “flipped classroom” model for all but one of his math classes this past school year. He attended the meeting Aug. 21 to explain what it is and how successful it has been.

All year, Mortenson prepared a series of short videos on each lesson; if more than 15 minutes was needed to pre-teach each lesson, he’d make two shorter videos.
Students could view the videos the night before the lesson was introduced in the classroom. In class, the day’s math concepts were presented along with even more hands-on examples for students to work through. Time was available in class to view the video and to work through problems with Mortenson.

Viewing the videos was not required, but Mortenson monitored who watched them and when. That way he could intervene with students whose grades were slipping, and have them watch the videos that they hadn’t. 

Mortenson explains the method as similar to a literature class, where you read a chapter or two the night before class where you discuss it. Students are much more able to discuss the symbolism and nuances of the literature if they’ve already read it. Likewise, students who don’t read may be able to follow along in class discussion, but they’re much less prepared, and it’s usually not comfortable for the student. 

Since implementing the flipped classroom model, Mortenson says class scores are up an average of
6 percentage points, and his classes are performing at 90 percent going into the second semester; both are dramatic increases over traditional in-class-only teaching. Students have a number of work problems for each concept in their textbooks; Mortenson gives them several more in class, and his videos give them even more. This extra combination helps ensure student success.

Another advantage to this method’s success, says Mortenson, is that he is always 40 feet or less from students and their lockers all day long. He’s available for help and questions at any time.

In teaching, Mortenson says, his biggest challenge is the lack of support for students outside the classroom. Especially with higher-level math classes, parents often are “lost” and can’t help with homework. The videos are viewable by parents (and anyone, really) through the school website.

Ballfield parking

Work began on changing the far-end baseball field (nearest Hwy. 55) into a parking lot shortly after the July meeting. As superintendent Tritabaugh explained, he thought everything was in order. Then they got a letter from the City of Kimball that a Conditional Use Permit was required along with a land survey. The permit has been applied for, and steps are being taken to meet the other requirements.

Other business

In other business, the board approved donations of $660 from the Kimball Lions, $1,500 from the Kimball American Legion, and $1,500 from the Kimball Sports Booster Club, and $1,450 from the High School Letterwinners, all toward construction of a dugout; and $475 from the Kimball American Legion to purchase an iPad for the elementary school.

Whitney Gettler was approved on a long-term substitute contract for a potential third section of kindergarten.

Melissa Opatz (who was Mrs. Nussbaum’s student teacher last year) was approved as a long-term substitute for Krisanne Forsman in first grade.

Tara Ottenson’s resignation dated Aug. 20 was approved contingent on finding a suitable replacement; she teaches elementary special ed.

The board approved a field trip to Quarry Park for Paul Sundin’s eighth-grade science class. 

They approved a 50/50 raffle at each home game (except football)for the Letterwinners Club with proceeds going to help pay for the new dugout. (The Spanish Club will have a fundraiser at home football games.)

Because there is a home football game at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16, just before the fall break for the teachers’ convention, the October school board meeting has been moved to Wednesday,
Oct. 23.

The next board meeting will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, in the board room. Parents, staff, the the general public are always welcome to attend board meetings.


Kimball Elementary & High School open houses Aug. 27

Open house is from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, at the Kimball Elementary School. There will be various forms needed to begin school, as well as tables for Hendricks’ Bus Co., Taher Food Service, Partners in Education, and many others available. Grades 4-6 need a planner, which P.I.E. will sell that night at their table in the gym. The planner is $3.

Grades 7-12 open house is at the high school cafetorium, also from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27.