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Waubun-Ogema-White Earth School District

Waubun-Ogema-White Earth approves instant alert system

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OGEMA - The Waubun-Ogema-White Earth School District is following the footsteps of several area school systems by adopting an instant alert system.

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The alert system is designed to send phone messages, e-mails and text messages to parents who sign up for the service. Parents can receive any type of notification that the district decides to send out.

Superintendent Mitch Anderson said that the district wanted to go with Skyward, which already provides information to parents and staff through a Web site.

It would have been easier to integrate Skyward's instant alert system with what the company already has in place in Waubun, Anderson said.

Anderson said, though, that Skyward's quote came in too high.

"They have all of our phone numbers and names, and it would be easier to transition to," Anderson said of Skyward.

Instead, Anderson said that Honeywell's instant alert system did the job and that it's not impossible to set it up with the district's existing systems.

"It does require work on our end in setting up for the first year," Anderson said.

However, he said that once it's up and running, it doesn't take much manpower to keep it running from year to year.

The annual cost for Honeywell's system is $1,748 - about $3 per student.

Frazee-Vergas has already rolled out its instant alert system using Honeywell, and Detroit Lakes is testing its system.

"Several area districts are happy with it," Anderson said.

Board member Tammy Winter said that the district would save a lot of money in postage by having the alert system in place.

Parents who do not sign up still will get important information about their children through the mail.

The board also approved a staff development report on how the district plans to help students perform better on required state standardized tests.

Anderson said there is a lot of data that comes in that helps teachers pinpoint which students need help, and what deficiencies those students have.

The deluge of data is a double-edged sword. Anderson acknowledged that with it, comes a lot of extra work.

"It's difficult for teachers," Anderson said.

He said that teachers have a high workload, and data analysis gets added to their duties.

But Anderson said that the Waubun district is doing better than some districts in how it analyzes data.

"Our district is ahead of the game," he said.

He said that staff development time has gone into training teachers on how to use the data that they get.

The board also approved a field trip to the Twin Cities for the entire junior class at Waubun High School, an art class and the one-act play class.

The plan is for the students to attend William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" next month in St. Paul. After the play, the students plan on eating dinner at Biaggi's in Maple Grove. The district will pay for the bus and the play tickets, but not the cost of eating out.

Waubun Principal Helen Kennedy said that the field trip is designed to give students a taste of culture that they generally do not see on a day-to-day basis.

"We've funded the trip every year," Winter said.

She said that if the budget is stretched, field trips could be one of the activities to go.

"If it becomes a budget issue, we have to think of it," she said.

Good news was reported to the board on several fronts:

? District-wide attendance is above 95 percent on average for the school year thus far.

? Enrollment is holding relatively steady at 656. The number of students enrolled at the beginning of September was 659.

? Business manager Michelle Heisler said that all students have turned in free and reduced lunch applications. She attributed the perfect response to cooperation from parents and social workers. Besides helping out the food service program, the district receives additional per pupil funding for every student who is approved for the free and reduced lunch program.

By JASON ADKINS

Detroit Lakes Newspapers

The Waubun-Ogema-White Earth School District is following the footsteps of several other school systems in the region by adopting an instant alert system.

The alert system is designed to send phone messages, e-mails and text messages to parents who sign up for the service. Parents can receive any type of notification that the district decides to send out.

Superintendent Mitch Anderson said that the district wanted to go with Skyward, which already provides information to parents and staff through a Web site.

It would have been easier to integrate Skyward's instant alert system with what the company already has in place in Waubun, Anderson said.

Anderson said, though, that Skyward's quote came in too high.

"They have all of our phone numbers and names, and it would be easier to transition to," Anderson said of Skyward.

Instead, Anderson said that Honeywell's instant alert system did the job and that it's not impossible to set it up with the district's existing systems.

"It does require work on our end in setting up for the first year," Anderson said.

However, he said that once it's up and running, it doesn't take much manpower to keep it running from year to year.

The annual cost for Honeywell's system is $1,748 - about $3 per student.

Frazee-Vergas has already rolled out its instant alert system using Honeywell, and Detroit Lakes is testing its system.

"Several area districts are happy with it," Anderson said.

Board member Tammy Winter said that the district would save a lot of money in postage by having the alert system in place.

Parents who do not sign up still will get important information about their children through the mail.

The board also approved a staff development report on how the district plans to help students perform better on required state standardized tests.

Anderson said there is a lot of data that comes in that helps teachers pinpoint which students need help, and what deficiencies those students have.

The deluge of data is a double-edged sword. Anderson acknowledged that with it, comes a lot of extra work.

"It's difficult for teachers," Anderson said.

He said that teachers have a high workload, and data analysis gets added to their duties.

But Anderson said that the Waubun district is doing better than some districts in how it analyzes data.

"Our district is ahead of the game," he said.

He said that staff development time has gone into training teachers on how to use the data that they get.

The board also approved a field trip to the Twin Cities for the entire junior class at Waubun High School, an art class and the one-act play class.

The plan is for the students to attend William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" next month in St. Paul. After the play, the students plan on eating dinner at Biaggi's in Maple Grove. The district will pay for the bus and the play tickets, but not the cost of eating out.

Waubun Principal Helen Kennedy said that the field trip is designed to give students a taste of culture that they generally do not see on a day-to-day basis.

"We've funded the trip every year," Winter said.

She said that if the budget is stretched, field trips could be one of the activities to go.

"If it becomes a budget issue, we have to think of it," she said.

Good news was reported to the board on several fronts:

? District-wide attendance is above 95 percent on average for the school year thus far.

? Enrollment is holding relatively steady at 656. The number of students enrolled at the beginning of September was 659.

? Business manager Michelle Heisler said that all students have turned in free and reduced lunch applications. She attributed the perfect response to cooperation from parents and social workers. Besides helping out the food service program, the district receives additional per pupil funding for every student who is approved for the free and reduced lunch program.

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