Nevis parent Nate Harris questioned the school’s decision to use ability grouping with seventh grade math students after hearing from his daughter that some students are referring to this as the “dumb group.”

Harris addressed the school board at its Monday night meeting.

“I think it’s sad that we’re grouping them into higher and lower achievers at the seventh grade level,” he said. “I’m worried about it. It feels like we’re choosing paths.”

Harris said students who are struggling may set their sites even lower or stop trying.

“I don’t think it’s a good fit for a small school like Nevis,” he said. “My worry is that some kids at the higher end of the lower group will get further behind because there’s nothing to motivate them to work harder. I think being in a mixed ability group would challenge them to work harder.”

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Superintendent Gregg Parks said he is open to hearing from parents who have concerns about their student and appreciated the feedback

“We’ve been doing this for a few years, but maybe we could tweak it, especially this year,” school board member Andy Lindow said.

In other action, the board:

  • Certified the 2020 payable 2021 preliminary levy so it could be sent to the county auditor by Sept. 30. The payable 2021 levy is a 3.17 percent increase from the payable 2020 levy. The 2021 total is $1,165,515, the maximum limitation, in order to allow for any adjustments prior to the Dec. 21 final certification.

  • Accepted the resignation of educational assistant Crystal Zachary.

  • Approve a full-time contract with Melvin Buckholtz as the school’s Individual American Indian Liaison.

  • Accepted the resignation of secretary Hannah Spry and approved a work agreement with Sarah Gwiazdon for the position, contingent on passing her background check.

  • Approved increasing the hours of instruction for McKenzie Harris, assistant School Readiness/Remedial Studies teacher, to help with distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. She will cover for K-2 teachers during the day to allow those teachers to conduct daily virtual meetings with distance learning students.

  • Approved teachers Katrina Carrier and Aubrey Capecchi as co-leaders of Tiger Time.

  • Approved changing the December school board meeting and truth-in-taxation hearing to Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. instead of the fourth Monday.

  • Approved the transfer Community Services fund balances of $9,198 to Community Education in accordance with Minnesota law.

  • Approved a board resolution designating Parks as the district’s Identified Official with Authority (IOwA) for Education Identity Access Management (EDIAM).

The next regular school board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26 on Zoom and in the media center.