District 88 approves integration plan

NEW ULM – The District 88 Board of Education recently approved a state-mandated, yet locally-specific, Integration Plan for 2014-17.

The 2013 legislative session changed what is required under the state’s Integration Rule, focusing more on academic achievement and closing the achievement gap between white students and students in protected classes, according to Superintendent Jeff Bertrang.

In New Ulm, the schools are working on closing the achievement gap for students receiving free and reduced price lunches, in both reading and math, he said.

The Integration Plan will include a district-level intervention person who focuses on tracking student data, provides integration training to staff, works with students to develop skills, coordinates efforts at all three sites and provides administration with benchmarks and measures of progress, lists Bertrang.

Another aspect of the program is to work with early childhood and family education (ECFE), providing outreach to families who struggle to get to ECFE classes.

“We will work with parents, day-care providers and pre-school programs on a literacy curriculum that assists children as they enter kindergarten,” said Bertrang.

The third pillar of the program is to work with secondary students, offering them courses and information about college and careers, so they are able to make informed decisions about their life after high school.

“This pillar will be our integration focus as well,” said Bertrang. “We will work with CRIC (Cottonwood River Integration Collaborative) schools on joint career ventures, career awareness and job fairs, bringing students together to learn what careers there are and what colleges or schools can prepare them for their choices.”

CRIC is a group of neighboring school districts which include both relatively ethnically homogenous and more ethnically diverse schools. They must work together, under state integration statutes.

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