April 15, 2010 at 9:22 a.m.
The Board was told around the end of April parents will get a letter asking about a preference for their (next year) fourth grader's education setting. Since 2003 North Branch has offered single-sex classrooms in the fourth grade. Mr. Kyle Krahl and Mrs. Sue Howard instruct a boy-only and girl-only class respectively. This is a parental option and in North Branch there are typically more families who apply than there is room for the single-sex participation.
Research has been done into innate differences in how boys and girls learn. Howard told the Board the single-sex class offering is not about "gender stereotypes" it's about improving education. Girls, she said, have more P cells in the retina which makes girls' eyes see color and texture, whereas boys have more "M" cells adapted for direction, speed and location of an object. Girls do better in small groups, often volunteering to partner-up and boys naturally work better individually in class. Boys tend to draw verbs and girls tend to create art using bright colors and drawing nouns. Krahl said he has boys who prefer to stand at their desks and do much better that way. Boys do better if the classroom materials directly relate to them or interest them.
The School Board also unanimously okayed an increase in the amount of incentive pay teachers get for qualifying for the district's Q Comp program. The payout annually will go to $2,500 up from the $2,200 provided for last year. This only is awarded to teachers who meet "site goals" for their building for student achievements.
Dona Yetter, Q Comp manager, said the district has the funds to sustain this increase through the special legislative appropriation designated only for Q-Comp districts. There are 14 fewer teachers participating in Q Comp in North Branch this year than last.
The vote on accepting the district's calendar for next year was not unanimous, however. Board members Jutz and John White did not support offering "spring break" for a week in March in 2010-11. North Branch has embraced a four-day week and the two questioned why this week-off is needed next year. School could be let-out earlier in June, without this they said.
Superintendent Dr. Deb Henton said in a recent survey 81 percent of parents told the district a break is important to them and their families.
In donations the Board officially acknowledged: $2,500 from the Brenda Borash Estate earmarked for boys and girls soccer, $600 from the Hazelden Foundation for scholarships and $312 from Medtronic Inc.-Gordon Munns for supplies at the high school.