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School board sets elementary school listening sessions

The oldest portion of Spring Valley Elementary School, pictured here, was built in 1929. Later additions have resulted in parts of the school being on different levels. The district is seeking community input on what to do with the building. File photo

The Spring Valley School Board has set two listening sessions for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 14 and Thursday, March 15 at Spring Valley Elementary School. The listening sessions are aimed at gathering community members' opinions on the direction they'd like the district to take with the aging elementary school building.

"We will have representatives from Market Johnson and SDS Architects there to answer questions," said District Superintendent Don Haack. "They've been doing the facility analysis and they can give more in depth responses to questions about the present facility."

Haack said likely the entire school board will be represented. Notices will be sent out of a special meeting, but Haack said the board will only be listening and gathering input, not taking action on anything.

The board just wants feedback.

"We want ideas and information on what people think, and we want to get ideas out on the table," he said.

The feedback from the listening sessions will be used to create questions for a survey that will be put together and distributed by School Perceptions, a company that produces surveys such as this one. The survey will be distributed over the summer.

Anyone interested in participating in the listening sessions can simply show up, Haack said.

The listening session dates were officially set at the school board's regular Feb. 25 meeting.

The board also:

• Congratulated fifth grade Battle of the Books Champions Sam Miller, Will Schmitt and Alex Peterson who represented Spring Valley in the state competition.

• Heard a budget update, the budget is 'tracking as planned" so far this year.

• Heard an update on the "Orange Frog Project" through which Haack and Brandon Walczak will attend a training in Flint, Michigan, and will train a group in the district after that.

The "Orange Frog Project" focuses on the idea that happiness brings productivity.

"People perform better and more things happen in their lives if they're happy," Haack said, describing the concept. "So happiness comes first and then you're more likely to achieve those goals."

Haack said the district staff has been working with the project first, and the hope is to eventually roll this out to students as well.

Some actions inspired by the "Orange Frog Project" in the district so far have included making sure staff members feel supported, particularly those under stress, and giving the juniors a get-together before they take the ACT instead of after. The idea being, Haack said, that the get together would help the juniors feel more relaxed and at ease, and score higher on the test.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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