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Menomonee Falls School District strives to rank class offerings

Schools have some leeway in programming beyond the core courses

April 2, 2014

Menomonee Falls – More classes focusing on business and healthcare could be coming to Menomonee Falls schools in the future as results of a recent survey are considered.

In late February and early March, the Menomonee Falls School District invited parents throughout the community to take a survey. The document, in essence, asked participants to prioritize, or rank, the types or programs that should be offered across all grade levels in upcoming school years.

"We want to ensure we're meeting the expectations of higher education facilities," Gary Kiltz, director of teaching and learning, said. "But we also want to listen to the community and gauge what their needs are."

With growing state and federal mandates taking shape in coming years, Menomonee Falls — like all school districts — will need to place heavy emphasis on the core curricular areas, including reading, math and science.

But districts are given leeway on the depth of other program priorities, including more specialized subject areas. Kiltz said the current review is an effort to assist students in discovering possible career options as they graduate from high school.

The district received 651 responses from parents by the March 10 deadline, and the data was assembled into a report that can be viewed on the district's official web site, www.sdmf.k12.wi.us.

At the elementary level, parents were asked to rank the depth of a number of programs on a 1 to 7 scale, with 1 being most important or favorable, and 7 being least important. Physical education, music and art ranked high on the prioritization wish list, while Spanish, Internet navigation classes and guidance-related instruction came in at the lower end of the spectrum.

The survey questions for middle and high school programs were more in-depth. Participants were asked to rank career options on a 1 to 9 scale. The top rankings — classes focusing on or leading to such business professions as accounting, marketing and finance — topped the list.

Also high on the prioritization list for upper grades were exploratory classes focusing on computer information technology, and health professions.

Throughout the community, there was less support for beefing up classes putting students on a human services pathway, and manufacturing.

Classes on the restaurant and hospitality professions were at the bottom of the list.

The survey included a few additional questions outside the parameters of course offerings.

When asked whether students should complete at least one high school class online, and outside a traditional classroom environment, parents were almost evenly divided with 49.61 percent of respondents answering "yes" and 50.39 percent answering "no."

Moving forward, district officials are going to take the data and examine it through the lens of the overall financial picture.

School Board member David Noshay, who heads the Curriculum and Learning Committee, said his group will meet with the Auxiliary Services Committee on April 10 to discuss the feasibility of weaving some of the desired courses into the fabric of Menomonee Falls' existing programs.

"Our work is not nearly done," Noshay said. "We continue to have preliminary discussions."

NEXT STEP

WHO: Menomonee Falls School Board's Finance, Curriculum and Learning committees

WHAT: discussion of future school programs from a curricular and financial standpoint

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. April 10

WHERE: Village Hall, N8480 Pilgrim Road

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