Supt. Ness: It’s Alternative Education Week

In a State of Minnesota Proclamation, Governor Dayton proclaimed April 8-14 as Alternative Education Week.  More than 160,000 Minnesota students are enrolled in alternative education programs including area learning centers, alternative learning programs, charter schools, drop out and prevention programs, online and distance learning programs, recovery and sober schools, care and treatment schools, schools within schools, and special education settings.

The Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs (MAAP), currently in its 25th year, is a broad-based vocational-oriented program for students attending alternative settings to acquire employment, academic, and social skills leading to fulfilling lives after high school.

Hundreds of students and staff, including those from our Fergus Falls Area Learning Center, will attend the MAAP STARS – Success, Teamwork, Achievement, Recognition, and Self-Esteem – event on April 11-12.  The conference will provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate artistic, career, and life skills in a variety of competitive, non-competitive, and demonstration events. They will demonstrate public speaking, employment interviewing, advertising and video promotion, entrepreneurship and workplace relations, management, and parent-decision making.  Good Luck ALC Otters!!

Minnesota Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 9-13, 2018
Are you ready for severe weather? Each year, the Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) in collaboration with the National Weather Service and 16 state and local agencies and organizations sponsors Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota. The week is designed to refresh, remind and educate everyone about the seasonal threats from severe weather and how to avoid them. It’s also a great time to make and practice your emergency plan and build or refresh your emergency preparedness kit.

The most important events during Severe Weather Awareness Week are the two annual statewide tornado drills.  These drills are scheduled for Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 1:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. Outdoor warning sirens and NOAA Weather Radios will sound in a simulated tornado warning. The first drill is intended for institutions and businesses. The evening drill is intended for second shift workers and families.  The Fergus Falls Public Schools participates in the tornado drill, but depending on the state testing schedule, the drill time may differ from the state drill.

Why Severe Weather Awareness Week?
According to the National Weather Service, Minnesota experiences an average of 40 tornadoes per year. In 2012, 37 twisters touched down. A record was set in 2010 with 104 tornadoes across the state. Understanding this threat and knowing what to do when a tornado is approaching can save lives.

MREA Advocating for Rural Schools
With about six weeks left in the legislative session, there are a few key items for education.  The number one concern is always school safety. Since the Parkland Florida shooting, the state legislature is looking at a number of bills to increase funding for school resource officers, secured entries, and mental health assistance.  Other items along with the bonding bill is the financial fix for the underfunded Teacher Retirement Association and addressing special education cross subsidy. Special education cross subsidy is when a school district uses its general fund dollars because the special education funding from the federal and state government does not cover the cost of their special education programs.

The Fergus Falls Public Schools is one of the school districts that Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA) serves, along with 223 other Minnesota school districts. MREA is the only advocate exclusively for Greater Minnesota education. Under the leadership of school board members, administrators, teachers and community members, MREA focuses on what puts first the education, growth and development of learners to bring about the best possible future. Dr. Fred Nolan, Executive Director, Diane Vosen, Administrative Coordinator, Sam Walseth, Legislative Affairs Coordinator and Dawn Zimmerman, Communications Director lead MREA.

MREA brings together teachers, administrators and school board members from across Greater Minnesota and partners with education cooperatives, higher education, nonprofits, businesses and community members. MREA is a grassroots organization that was founded in 1985 by a group of school board members and administrators who believed that non-metro school districts needed a clearer voice in St. Paul and every student deserves a voice. Their main focus is advocating for the issues that matter to them, communicating changes and the impact they’ll have, and providing high-quality professional development and networking.