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Audit, technology grab school board spotlight

November 20, 2012
By Deb Gau , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - Members of the Marshall School Board approved both a 2012 audit and a superintendent's contract at their regular meeting Monday.

"The audit turned out well," said Bruce Lamprecht, business services director for the school district. The board had heard a presentation on the audit report during a work session earlier this month. The school district's revenues exceeded expenses by $260,000 in 2012.

In its action items Monday, the board also approved a new employment contract for Superintendent Klint Willert, after contract negotiations took place this year. Willert was approved as Marshall superintendent for the term running from July 1 through June 30, 2016.

Classroom technology took the spotlight for a good portion of the meeting, with a presentation from Marshall High School math teacher Marty Brandl. Brandl demonstrated a variety of online resources and tools he uses to help teach students in his algebra classes. Those tools ranged from a free online graphing calculator that can be used for classroom demonstrations, to a program that allows Brandl to zoom in on textbook pages while the class is discussing a particular problem or part of the lesson. The visuals can make it easier for the class to follow along, he said.

Interactive technology played a big part in Brandl's presentation. He demonstrated, an online service that allows students to ask questions via text message during class. Brandl said the setup means kids can ask questions without feeling intimidated or having to wait a long time with their hand raised, while he gets daily feedback on what works and doesn't work for teaching the class.

Brandl also posts video tutorials on YouTube, which students can watch. He said the videos are a good way to help answer students' questions if they've been absent, or if they need to go over part of a lesson again. One of the benefits of the YouTube videos, Brandl said, is that students can move at their own pace.

"It's really nice for me to have those things as a teacher," Brandl said.

Brandl's YouTube channel had more than 60,000 visits in the past 30 days. Students typically view the videos most during the school week, rather than on weekends or holidays.

School board members had some positive comments for Brandl.

"I'm excited," said board chairman Jeff Chapman. Chapman said it would be good if Marshall were to be selected for a federal Race to the Top grant, to help implement the kinds of technological integration Brandl was using.

In October, Marshall applied for a multimillion-dollar grant award, together with a group of five area school districts. They are still waiting to hear the results of their application.

In other business, Lamprecht noted that the school district had saved some money by using an electronic invoice payment system sponsored by the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. Marshall was one of 73 school districts who qualified for a rebate, based on their use of the system. Marshall received a rebate check of more than $6,000, Lamprecht said.



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