With the start of classes for the 2012-2013 school year at hand, the Emmetsburg Community School District Board of Education got a bit of pleasant news during its' August meeting on Aug. 15. Preliminary estimates for student enrollment after school registration appear positive, according to school administrators.
Superintendent John Joynt opened the discussion as part of the Superintendent's Report to the board, noting that after the school registration days had been completed, it appeared as if the student enrollments were up slightly at the high school /middle school and steady at West Elementary. Joynt called on his building principals to elaborate.
"After two days of registration, by our figures, we're up 14 students here at the high school," noted High School Principal Fred Matlage. "We're excited about that."
"How about open enrollment students?" asked board member Tammy Naig.
"We usually have around 80 students who open enroll into our district," Joynt answered, "That number appears to be pretty steady. Usually, open enrollment students make up about 10 to 11 percent of our student body."
At West Elementary, Principal Joe Carter noted that with students in the Pre-Kindergarten program included into the total, the enrollment at West was up around 15 students, bringing the building's student population to around the 340-student mark.
In a related item, Carter reported that the Summer School session for West Elementary had recently concluded, with 45 students out of a possible 55 attendees taking part in the session. "I think the session went very well, we had good turnout from the students and the staff felt it was very beneficial to the students," Carter added.
During his report to the board, Matlage explained a new opportunity for the district.
"We met with some people from the Department of Education about a grant that I talked to you folks about back in June. But, it's really not a grant what it is, it's called Workplace Readiness," Matlage began, "So the Department of Ed is going to set aside money and they're going to pay for subs and things like that when we have the meetings, and the goal is to prepare our special needs students at the high school for the workplace in our local community."
Matlage continued. "But in order to do that, you have to start in the Middle School. If you imagine it like a funnel, we're narrowing down the top focus to the high school, We're going to work with the Middle School this year on workplace readiness, talking about resumes`, talking about filling out applications, how to perform proper interviews, how to walk up to a person, look them in the eye, shake their hands and say 'Hi, my name is Fred Matlage and I'm here for your 2 o'clock interview', things like that, so that way, they're more prepared."
Matlage explained the reason for approaching the project in this manner was to benefit every student, not just the special needs students. " Every student can benefit from learning how to do those types of things."
Matlage reiterated that the DOE would reimburse the district for the cost of substitute teachers to allow the faculty to meet to set up the program, as well as pay for materials for the project, or guest speakers.
"It's not like they're going to give us $35,000, it's more like 'you tell us what you need, we'll give it to you." Matlage said. "This is really probably the better way to do it."
According to Matlage, Emmetsburg will be one of three districts in the state piloting this project in years one and two. "In years two and three, we are going to have other schools come to us and we're going to show them what we're doing and they will take it back and they'll start years one and two and they'll go out and show other schools."
Emmetsburg was the only district in Northwest Iowa asked to participate in the pilot project.
"The reason why is because our special ed teachers at the high school do a really good job with what they have to get those kids in the programs at Iowa Lakes and placement out in the community," Matlage pointed out.
For now, the program will start at the middle school and then next school year, work with the high school.
"It's a three-year project and it's going to take some time, I'll give you more information as I get it," Matlage said. "I'm excited for this because this is an opportunitywe're going to work with Iowa Lakes and the other organizations in the community to get to those kids and get them some mentoring, whatever its going to take. There's no plan right now because we've just started it and we're on the ground floor."