March 20, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 66

Hurley School District action teams set goals

HURLEY — Burton Industries of Ironwood has joined the businesses assisting the Hurley School District in upgrading its technical education cooperative program.

Ralph Ansami/Daily Globe
Hurley teacher Shannon Dahlbacka receives a Veterans of Foreign Wars “teacher of the year” award from Ron Zaleski, Hurley VFW commander, Monday. Dahlbacka was honored for getting 50 Hurley junior class students to participate in a Voice of Democracy essay contest, including the second place winner at the district level, Sarah Carroll. “That’s the most students ever involved in Voice of Democracy in the 11-county area. It’s not even close,” Zaleski said. Asked what her secret was to get students to participate, Dahlbacka said, “I told them they had to.” District administrator Chris Patritto is at left.

District administrator Chris Patritto told the school board Monday that Burton, an electronics components firm in the industrial park, has indicated it wants to join the effort that also includes Ironwood Plastics, Extreme Tool, of Wakefield, and Bretting Manufacturing, of Ashland.

“They’re excited about it,” Patritto said.

The companies and school district are considering different means to help students better prepare for the workforce or additional education in specific fields. The companies have indicated they are willing to provide funds for equipment and to help train students for careers.

Earlier in the meeting, chairs of various strategic plan action teams addressed the school board on their goals and accomplishments.

Teacher Karen Mattson said the purpose of her action team is to reduce behavioral referrals in the school 50 percent by 2016. The Hurley Pride effort encourages appropriate behavior among children.

“It’s been pretty productive,” Mattson said.

Ronda Olkonen, a teacher who leads the Green Schools action team, discussed the Safe Routes to School initiative and the effort to create trail loops to the Penokee Range trail system. The loops would extend from the school to Riccelli Park and possibly to Montreal.

Fifty recycling bins were purchased through the Green Schools effort with grant money and the school bought another 44, Olkonen said.

A $10,000 grant was received through General Mills for a healthy lifestyle program that seeks to increase exercising.

A forestry committee has been making use of the district’s 100 acres of school forest land.

Roy Haeger said a goal of the technology action team is to have 80 percent of all students proficient in technology by 2016 and 100 percent participating in the tech e-portfolio program.

Community education director Steve Eder said a goal of doubling volunteers at the K-12 school has already been met. A volunteer coordinator the district hired is now working with more than 100 citizen volunteers.

The number of volunteers has increased by more than 70 since 2011. The biggest increase has been in people willing to work one-on-one with students.

School district officials are proud of the fact that 250 people showed up at the school for grandparents’ day recently. It was the first time many of them had walked the school halls. Some of those grandparents showed interest in volunteering.

Teacher Shannon Dahlbacka outlined the many service learning projects her action team has spearheaded, from raising money for Hurley Memorial Building restoration to removing garlic mustard, an invasive species.

A school garden has also blossomed from the team’s efforts. The action team goal is to get at least 80 percent of the students involved in service learning projects.

After the presentations had concluded, Patritto said, “I think this shows our strategic plan is more than reading, writing and arithmetic.”