Design II students pay it forward
Design II students presented Kristin Bye (Ottertail Public Health Nurse) with tummy time blankets for their Family Home Visiting Programs. These bright, stimulating blankets are used as a teaching tool for families of new babies.
Nurses like Kristin visit the new families and take the time to teach them about the importance of tummy time for their little ones. Kristin stressed how important it is that babies get time to strengthen their core and their necks as they grow by spending time playing on their stomachs.
Fabric was donated to the class by Kristin Rowlan.
Supt. Ness Receives MASA Polaris Leadership Award
May 7, 2019
Fergus Falls Schools Superintendent Jerry Ness has been named the 2019 recipient of the Polaris Leadership Award. The Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) will honor Ness for his exemplary school leadership and a lifetime of achievement in education and the wider community at a statewide recognition ceremony in October.
Ness has almost 30 years of administrative experience. He has served for the past 13 years as the Superintendent of the Fergus Falls Public Schools. Prior to his time with Fergus Falls, he was the executive director of the Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA). Ness held the role of superintendent and principal of the West Central Area Schools and he began his administrative career at an assistant principal for the Kenosha Unified School District No. 1 in Wisconsin.
With this award, Ness is recognized for qualities such as professional courage, creation of a legacy of excellent leadership, fostering innovation, contribution through example and mentoring, exemplary conduct reflecting integrity and bearing emulation, and significant tenure in each position supporting district vision and affecting positive change.
“Fairness, responsibility and integrity are key features of Superintendent Ness’ conduct. He is decisive and a forward thinker. He is practical and inclusive. He has fun at work, but that does not diminish his role as leader of our district,” said Melanie Cole, Chair of the Fergus Falls Public Schools School Board. “’Excellence’ is a strong word, but it is what our community expected and what Superintendent Ness is providing.
Ness began his tenure at Fergus Falls Public Schools in 2006, a time when the district saw low test scores, lacked vision and direction, was in need of a new high school, was in statutory operating debt, and students were open enrolling out of the district. Over the past 13 years, the district has seen an increase in more than 300 traditional students and more than 600 students enrolled in their online school program. During that time, the district moved from a statutory operating debt to a 20% fund balance and test scores have increased in all areas.
Ness led the district towards the passage of two successful bond referendums. The first bond was to complete major remodels of the grades 5-8 middle school and the grades 9-12 high school. The second bond was the installation of new outdoor facilities including: bleachers for the soccer/football field, recreational green space, tennis courts, and an eight-lane track. Private donors also contributed $1 million to install an artificial turf field.
Under Ness’ leadership, the district is currently implementing a Long-Term Facility Plan, which includes remodeling a facility to house all of the district’s preschool programming including their partner program with Children’s Corner, a local childcare provider. This partnership will be a model facility in the region where parents have the ability to have their children attend both preschool and childcare in the same facility. Fergus Falls Public Schools is also seeking to expand overnight childcare for shift workers within their community.
Ness is an involved member of MASA and its national affiliate, AASA. He has been a member of the MASA Board of Directors, Legislative Committee, which he chaired, Legislative-Finance sub-committee, and the mentoring program.
Ness’ community involvement includes the Executive Committee of Forward Fergus Falls (FFF), Center for the Arts Board of Directors, Kiwanis International, Fergus Falls Chamber of Commerce, Lake Region Community Partners, and the Lake Region Healthcare Board of Directors.
Ness received a master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Bemidji State University. He earned a 6th year certificate from North Dakota State University.
Each year, MASA recognizes members for their contribution to public education. MASA is a professional organization of Minnesota’s school leaders.
Science Museum of Minnesota visits McKinley
May 7, 2019
The Otter PTO brought in the Minnesota Science Museum to teach Kindergarten and 1st grade students about different ways we hear and measure sound through vibration.
The kids LOVED it and the presenter was DELIGHTFUL!
History Day participants do well at state competition
May 6, 2019
For the first time in several years Fergus Falls had 3 separate projects advance to the final round with all receiving honorable mentions!
Congratulations to Ray Cheshire and Karah Gullickson (8th) and Amelia Buckmeier (10th).
Front Row:Ericka Lahti, Anna Erickson, Danny Robb
Back Row : Cole Zierden, Alex Lindgren
Envirothon team finishes second
May 3, 2019
The "Blue Crew" finished 2nd Wednesday in the Area Envirothon held at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. They will now compete in Elk River, May 20th at the State Envirothon!
The Envirothon, an outdoor learning event for high school students in grades 9-12, is one of the state’s largest environmental education competitions. Teams consisting of 5 students from the same school/organization visit 6 different learning stations covering Aquatics, Forestry, Soils, Wildlife, and a current environmental topic that changes every year. Students are given a 25-point exam relating to the station’s topics. At the sixth station, the students are required to give a brief (8-9 minute) pre-determined oral presentation to a panel of judges, also based on the current environmental topic for the year.
5th & 6th Grade Choir Concert
May 1, 2019
Special School Board Meeting
April 30, 2019
A special meeting of the School Board of Independent School District No. 544 was held in the Otter Community Room at Kennedy Secondary School. Chair Matthew Lemke called the meeting to order at 7:15 am. The following members were present: Kirby Anderson, Melanie Cole, Missy (Melissa) Hermes, Natalie Knutson, and Matthew Lemke. Stephen Vigesaa was absent. Jerry Ness, Superintendent, Mark Masten, Business Manager, and Elaine Jahnke, HR Director, were also present.
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by all present.
Missy Hermes, clerk, established a quorum.
Kirby Anderson made a motion to approve the agenda. The motion was seconded by Natalie Knutson and carried unanimously.
Business Manager Mark Masten and Supt. Jerry Ness presented information regarding relocating the Early Childhood Program to the Target building.