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Helmut Schmidt, Published February 27 2012

Moorhead schools to get assistant principals

MOORHEAD – Each of Moorhead’s three elementary schools will get an assistant principal starting in the coming school year, the school board decided Monday in a 6-0 vote.

The new positions, expected to cost $300,000 to $325,000 altogether, will help Moorhead schools meet two mandates from the 2011 Legislature.

One mandate calls for all teachers to have a yearly evaluation, with a formal evaluation every three years.

The other mandate, called “Reading Well by Grade 3,” requires concentrated literacy efforts to ensure students are proficient readers.

The district’s three elementary schools are large for the metro area. The kindergarten through fifth grade schools, Robert Asp and Ellen Hopkins, have 811 and 806 students, respectively. S.G. Reinertsen has 762 students, though it only has grades 1-5, district records show.

Each school has a principal, but no assistant principals.

Superintendent Lynne Kovash said requiring principals to do evaluations for 100 staff members to meet the state mandate would be unworkable.

“Otherwise, they’re spending all their time evaluating,” she said. “We also need them to be able to lead.”

She said the district will look for literacy experience and leadership in the candidates’ backgrounds.

The assistant principals will also provide supervision and evaluation of staff for the district’s Kinder Plus (K+) extended-day kindergarten program, in partnership with the director of Community Education, Kovash said.

Money for the positions will come from shifting literacy coach funds and from $150,000 to $175,000 in “literacy aid” available starting with the coming school year, Kovash said.

In other business, the board voted 6-0 to approve the 2012-13 school calendar.

The school year begins Sept. 4, just after Labor Day, and ends May 30. Graduation will be June 2.

Winter break begins Dec. 22, and classes resume Jan. 2.

Kovash said the academic calendar is designed to conform more closely to the Fargo and West Fargo public school calendars.

Students will have 172 instructional days. However, there are no storm days built in to the calendar, Kovash said. That means all required makeup days must be tacked on to the end of the school year.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583