By JENNIE ZEITLER, Staff Writer
The agriculture classes at Upsala High School have been the first in the state to utilize recordkeeping technology to track activities and achievements.
Gretchen Schleper, ag teacher and FFA advisor, updated the School Board May 22 on ag activities, highlighting agricultural experience tracking (AET), agricultural education online recordkeeping system.
“It’s really comprehensive,” Schleper said. “It keeps records related to projects, work experience, classwork, finances, job recommendations, scholarship applications and community service.”
Upsala classes piloted the program with nine students as an online class during the 2011-2012 school year, along with a couple other Minnesota schools.
“It was useable and the kids really liked it,” said Schleper.
Schleper was asked to send a student to a meeting of the Minnesota Agricultural Leadership Council in St. Cloud, requesting that startup funds be provided for every ag program in the state, approximately $3-4 per student.
Audrey Schleper went before the Council and the result was a grant for $16,000 for the entire state.
Following a vote by Upsala’s FFA chapter, every ag student is an affiliate member of FFA. With an average 30-35 members most years, this brings the total membership to 119.
“It was like pulling teeth to get students to keep records before this,” Schleper said. “This is student-led and it increases their motivation. I can check anyone’s records any time and message them.”
There is a smart phone application which a number of students have downloaded, which allows them to immediately enter information without having to pull out a notebook.
During the 2012-2013 school year, AET was used by any ag class members who chose to use it, but Schleper intends to bring the rest of the students on board next year.
“It’s awesome. We’re still exploring all the features,” Schleper said.
Upsala School Board Briefs
Other business to come before the Upsala School Board May 22 included:
• Learning from Dean of Students Vern Capelle that the high school special education department is looking into operating a coffee shop/school store from 8 a.m. to 8:25 a.m. every day. “It should be self-sustaining,” Capelle said. “The main reason is for transitioning students to develop more skills;”
• Hearing that one printer and one projector are not working due to a recent power outage. An insurance claim has been filed;
• Approving the rehiring of Byron Westrich, with tenure;
• Approving the hiring of Amber Kalthoff as Title I instructor;
• Accepting the resignation of Ann Marschel;
• Approving a resolution accepting the services contract for fleet maintenance with Upsala Motors. Board Chair Dean Peterson submitted a conflict of interest statement and abstained from voting;
• Approving a donation of $100 per month from Lange Oil;
• Approving a quote from Pearson for the grades 5 – 10 math curriculum for $18,280.60, which included $3,500 for professional development; and
• Approving a rental agreement between the District and Mid-State Education District’s Success program for severely handicapped students who cannot be accommodated in a regular classroom setting. The fee for two classrooms and a rest room is $6 per square foot, which is projected to be $11,064 for the coming school year.
The next meeting of the Upsala School Board will be Wednesday, June 26, at 7:30 p.m. in the high school media center.