2015-2016 School Year Preview: ROCORI [VIDEO]
COLD SPRING - This week, WJON is featuring several area superintendents to highlight their school district before the 2015-2016 school year kicks off.
Today, we highlight Scott Staska, superintendent of ROCORI schools. This is Staska's 14th year in the district. Here's a look at some of the topics for the district this year:
Slowly Increasing Enrollment
The ROCORI district saw a slight spike in enrollment last year, going from 1,993 students in 2013 to 2,035 students. Staska says the district had about 12 years of declining enrollment and that the increase might signal that more families are moving to the surrounding community.
"I also think we're becoming a district of choice and people are chosing to come here through open enrollment. We've taken a lot of time to improve our space through renovations and expansion, I think the other thing is our reputation academically and the work our staff has been doing."
Last fall, Staska said the district was more than able to accommodate the slight increase of students, since it was only a slight uptick at mostly the kindergarten level. The district remains optimistic that enrollment will continue to slowly grow.
Pre Labor Day Start
The ROCORI school district will start classes before Labor Day this year. The holiday is on September 7th, which is the latest it can land. Staska says they will start class on September 1st.
“It just gives a little nicer year, we can extend a couple weekends a little bit longer and it gives us a more relaxed pace to the school year.”
Staska says most families voiced their support this summer to start school before Labor Day this year.
Possibly More Technology in the Classroom
The district is weighing the idea of incorporating more technology in the classroom. Staska says they're working with teachers to brainstorm possible future ideas for devices to use in class.
"The most important way we can improve technology is if our teachers are leading that deployment. Instead of ordering a textbook in the future, maybe it will be an online curriculum supported by a classroom set of iPads or Chromebooks."
Last year, Cold Spring elementary experimented with a Chromebook lab that could be moved from classroom to classroom. Staska says the district is currently wrestling over if kids should be able to take future devices home with them or not.
Biggest Challenge/Biggest Success
Staska says his biggest challenge over the years was the district previously facing declining enrollment and financial reductions. He says it's been great to see the district bouncing back with enrollment and rising ACT scores.
"We say it quite frankly and proudly that we want to be Central Minnesota's standard of excellence for public education."
He adds that their teacher induction program has also been a huge success. The program involves the district working to support new teachers during their 1st three years with mentoring and support.
-Tomorrow we will feature Jeff Schwiebert and the Sartell-St. Stephen district-