District 88 Board OKs preliminary levy

NEW ULM – The District 88 Board of Education on Thursday approved a preliminary levy for taxes payable in 2014.

The levy was approved at the maximum allowed level of $6,200,464.89, up $46,246.02, or 0.75 percent, from the previous year.

The number will be most likely adjusted at a future date.

Annual Report on

Curriculum, Instruction and Student Achievement

The board also approved a mandated Annual Report on Curriculum, Instruction and Student Achievement.

The report covers sections such as: district improvement efforts, testing programs and results, connections between testing and professional development, and curriculum reviews and schedules for those reviews.

The report more specifically summarizes 2013 test results in math and reading as measured by Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) and the ACT college-readiness tests.

Some highlights:

Thirty-nine percent of New Ulm students from the class of 2013 tested ready for college-level coursework in 2013 as measured by composite ACT scores. This percentage was the same as the statewide average.

Local students exceeded state averages in reading readiness (84 percent tested ready for college, compared to 78 percent statewide) and social science (63 percent tested ready locally, compared 57 percent statewide). The local numbers were lower than the state averages in college algebra (61 percent were ready locally, compared to 62 percent statewide) and biology (49 percent were deemed ready locally, versus 52 percent statewide).

Ninety-seven students from New Ulm Public, or about 65 percent of the class, took the ACT tests.

90-day evaluation of


In a brief evaluation of Superintendent Jeff Bertrang’s first 90 days in office, Board Chair Duane Winter stated:

“We have had a successful school opening with a lot of last-minute issues and hirings that have been addressed and handled in a professional and timely manner. Jeff has done a great job of listening, staying focused, holding staff accountable and delegating.

“Jeff has been a valuable resource for us board members, answering questions and providing information in a timely manner.

“Jeff has also done a good job of processing through all the information shared with him and analyzing along with deciphering it to figure out if and how it applies to our current goals, vision and task at hand.

“Jeff also works well with the board and has the same bottom line- what is best for our students!”

Bertrang, in turn, shared a list of goals for the next 90 days.


Two policies, presented to the board for a first look, generated some questions.

A draft policy that would afford naming rights to large donors raised concerns from board member Patricia Hoffman.

She pointed out that the policy raises the potential for controversy: how much of a donation is enough, for example.

A suggestion (that would be part of the activities handbook) to allow practices for some fine arts activities on Sundays elicited a response from Winter.

The change is proposed to avoid scheduling conflicts for busy students.

But Sundays have traditionally been designated as family time, and Winter expressed a concern that the change would further erode it.

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