The Belle Plaine School Board adopted a new social-emotional learning platform, entitled “Move This World,” at Monday night’s business meeting. The program, which the board discussed in great detail at their work session last week, provides students and teachers with video materials that expose students to lessons in emotional and situational management, among other areas.

Belle Plaine Superintendent Ryan Laager repeated at the meeting Monday, Feb. 25,  the  notion that he wanted to bring forward a program that both benefits students’ mental health and avoids over extending teachers in its implementation.

What came to the fore was “Move This World,” a program already in place in over 20 states around the nation which uses short interactive videos to get its message across. From breathing exercises to role playing and hypothetical ideation sessions, the program takes a mixed approach to giving teachers and students universal language to identify common issues. According to the program’s web site, the use of universal language throughout communities allows all members to feel as though they are getting their points across.

Board member Terry Morrison ultimately voted to approve the program which carries a roughly $16,000 price tag, but he expressed consideration over the program’s  lack of certification from the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), a guiding body in the SEL realm.

The MTW curriculum aligns with the SEL core competencies as defined by CASEL and is reviewed annually by the American Institutes of Research. “Move This World” is up for certification in April from CASEL which reviews SEL programs every few years.

Morrison approved the program under the condition that the district keep an eye on the progress of the program and its upcoming CASEL review.

Educators to earn more for driving school vehicles

Following a brief discussion in which Morrison raised concerns over the legality of a pay framework asking paraprofessionals to drive district vehicles for overnight trips, the board approved a memorandum of understanding between the school district, the Belle Plaine Education Association and the Belle Plaine Education Support Professionals. The memorandum outlines the pay educators  can expect for driving students using district vehicles. The pay would come on top of their agreed upon salaries or hourly wages.

Laager noted that the annual trip students take to Wolf Ridge would likely be the only instance when education support professionals would be asked to travel overnight; therefore, he saw no need for concern over the issue Morrison brought up.  The board approved the MOU without dissent.

Update on Technology from Elementary Educators

The board heard presentations from Nikki Golio, a third grade teacher, and Don Fraser, a third-sixth grade STEM instructor.

The pair separately gave updates as to how they are using technology to implement educational programs as well as to track students’ progress through lesson plans.

Golio noted that through technology, she has been able to offer her students more reading materials than ever before, due to the fact that the school neither has to purchase nor store paperback copies of certain books.

“I would put our lit programs against anyone else’s,” Laager said. “You’re doing some really cutting edge stuff down there.”

Fraser reviewed ongoing curriculum which integrates computer coding into students’ coursework from an early age.

From video game making to robotics and nature observations, the coursework STEM students undergo integrates what Fraser described as emerging real-world skills.

“The sooner we get [students] involved in technology, the better they’re going to be,” Fraser said.

A new addiction to Oak Crest Elementary’s STEM program that Fraser touted as a celebration point for students was a green screen. Laager noted that the junior-senior high school can expect a green screen of their own in the near future.

 Also on the Agenda

• The board approved an out-of state baseball trip to Cocoa Beach, Florida, set for March 24-28.

• The board heard a presentation from James Mathiowetz, a recent BPHS graduate and current State FFA officer.  Mathiowetz outlined his recent travels to South Africa through the national FFA program. He continued to highlight statewide FFA affairs and celebrated Belle Plaine’s FFA program.

• The board updated the districts Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) policy to change non-discriminatory verbiage that reads “gender” to instead read “gender identity or expression.” The board also updated six other policies across  a number of  matters at Monday’s meeting.

Upcoming Meetings

• Wednesday, March 6: 3:30 p.m. Insurance Committee Meeting - Board Room

• Monday, March 18: 5:30 p.m. Finance Meeting and 6:00 p.m. Regular Board Meeting

• Wednesday, March 20: 3:25 p.m. Wellness Committee Meeting - Board Room

• Monday, April 1: 6:00 p.m. Curriculum Advisory Meeting - Board Room

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