A School Forest Education Plan was presented to the Clintonville School Board at Monday, Dec. 10.
Project coordinators Les King, Kelly Smith, and Waupaca County UW-Extension Faculty Member Connie Abert spoke to the board on their plans to make the school forests a bigger part of education for students from grades 1-12.
“Basically, we noticed that the majority of our district staff wasn’t using our school forest parcels,” said King. “After taking a staff survey, there were two major reasons: lack of money, and not knowing what to do or not being comfortable with taking kids outdoors.
“With the new standards coming out and there being a strong emphasis on hands on learning, project based assessment, and visual learning, this tied in well with our need to get kids learning outdoors,” continued King. “We wanted to make it easy for teachers by giving them sample plans and ideas, creating a list of resources (both materials and people) and generating money through grants that are available to us, but only if we have a school forest education plan in place. This money can be used to make improvements at our school sites, if we are awarded grant funding.”
Between the city and school district, about 250 acres are available for exploration. The School Forest Education Plan includes a list of people who can help assist teachers who are thinking about taking students to one of the sites.
“Five years ago, I really began to realize the importance of environmental education,” said Smith. “We need to find a way to get students outside whenever possible. Over the last five years, some classes have gone out to a school forest site each year and worked with ‘experts’ who can help teachers share environmental knowledge.”
The plan utilizes Department of Natural Resources curriculum in area sites, along with other nationally recognized curriculum. The Wisconsin Environmental Education Board assisted with the plan, and several websites are available for teachers to use in conjunction with environmental education trips.
“We hope the plan encourages teachers to get their students outside,” said Smith. “Kids need these experiences to grow up healthy, and we need to teach them how to preserve these resources. There are definite benefits for kids and the community alike.”
It was reported that Clintonville is one of five schools in the county to develop such a plan this year. Currently, there are about 30 school forests in Waupaca County.
A draft of the 2013-14 school calendar was presented to the board. It was noted that this will be the first non-negotiated year for employees. This draft has no early release days, and additional staff development days.
High School Phy Ed Credit
High School Principal Lance Bagstad presented preliminary information regarding alternate methods for students to earn physical education credit, provided that they meet all criteria as specified by district policy and school administration.
Bagstad said the information presented was a first revision. He expects to have a more finalized version available in the coming weeks that will serve as the high school administration’s end recommendation.
Reports from school principals were read, highlighting some of the “good news” items taking place at each school.
The board went on to approve the following items:
• Hiring Laura Wilbur to a 3/4 hour per day (Monday through Thursday) Food Service III position at Dellwood;
• The resignation of Darlene Steinke from her Clerical II position for the purpose of retirement, effective Jan. 22, 2013. Darlene will have been with the district for 29 years;
• The second reading of Policy #9365 – Construction of Agenda.
The next regularly scheduled school board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14, in the middle school IMC.