Minnetonka Schools Year in Review
The Minnetonka School District during 2012 kept to its tradition as a vibrant institution for learning. The district made way for new technologies in the schools, improved infrastructure and expanded programs throughout the district.
Some notable features in no particular order are listed in this Year in Review of the Minnetonka School District.
At the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year half of the ninth-grade class was introduced to a pilot program using Apple iPads. With the success the first half of the school year, the pilot program was expanded to all of ninth-graders. The freshman would spend two-thirds of their day using the iPads, as well as taking them home to help with homework.
Funded through the district’s Technology Referendum revenue, the plan gave around 700 students and more than 30 teachers access to a device for math, science and language arts. As part of the goal for 21st century learners, the iPads are used with applications that correspond with the curriculum.
The program then was approved for expansion to 10th-grade for the 2012-2013 school year. It will then progress until all four upper grades have the iPads.
The Spanish and Chinese Immersion programs in 2012 expanded to the middle school level.
The immersion program was brought to Minnetonka in 2007, and the first-graders who helped establish it brought their second language with them to sixth-grade.
Minnetonka Middle School East and West will have the language in Social Studies, which was said to have been selected because it will help refine the grammar in learning another language.
The students will be exposed to their second language for 83 minutes of the day, a change from an exclusive second language structure in elementary school.
The program to bring immersion to middle school was modeled somewhat from the experience of Portland, Ore., schools. With so few schools in the country doing two languages, it was Minnetonka’s job to set the bar.
Groveland Learning Commons
Groveland Elementary School at the beginning of the year became home to the new Learning Commons, which replaced the old library and media center. This state-of-the-art learning area for the elementary school is ahead of its time with emphasis on collaboration and technology.
Most of the furniture is moveable to foster group work, the center is designed with a nautical and lake theme, and design help came from the students. It also allows for technology updates without having to alter the room drastically.
Build in a completely wireless atmosphere, the commons features an area for presentations with Smartboard technology. A separate room for quieter situations is equipped with Apple TV. The space is also meant to have multiple activities taking place so more can use the room throughout the day.
After the expansion of the music program last year to fifth-graders, the positive feedback led the district to keep a strong emphasis on the arts. A new elementary school theater program debuted with a production of Disney’s “101 Dalmatians,” involving more than 350 fourth- and fifth-graders and six performances.
New board member
Erin Adams, school board member for 12 years, moved out of the district leaving a vacant seat.
John Holcomb, a resident of Chanhassen, replaced Adams after board approval.
New road and parking lot
Excelsior Elementary School gained a redesigned road to boost child safety and relieve parking lot congestion. The school district purchased a parcel from the county, which was bought from the Lyman Lumber Co. for the new Excelsior Library. In partnership with Excelsior, the lot will help with overflow parking during heavily attended events.
The result is a way for traffic to better circulate during the busy pick-up and drop-off times that conflict with bus traffic.
The DECA team set a record by sending 99 students to the state competition. Ten students qualified for the international competition in Salt Lake City, Utah.
A new 20-year agreement was reached with the Minnetonka Youth Hockey Association and school district. This saves more than $700,000 for the youth association and district $1.5 million through 2022.
Minnetonka Middle School East and West this year gained five new classrooms.
Test scores remain high
Minnetonka again kept the test scores at top-level in the state.
The class of 2012 had a composite ACT score of 25.3, with the national average being 21.1. The last four years the average test score has been around 25.
There were 822 students taking Advanced Placement exams, with 1,522 tests taken. Also in 2012, there were a record 329 AP scholars, which far exceeds 243 in 2011. The number of International Baccalaureate students taking at least one IB course was also far higher than 2011 with 436 compared to 323. From that, 30 IB diplomas were awarded.
The class of 2012 had a 99 percent graduation rate, and 93 percent of those went on to college.