RPS School board discusses expanding highly gifted program, appr - KXLT - Fox 47 Rochester MN News, Weather, Sports #rochmn

RPS School board discusses expanding highly gifted program, approves district-wide calendar

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -

Even though school was closed Tuesday for Rochester Public Schools, that didn't stop the RPS School Board from having its bi-weekly meeting.

Some major hot-button issues were discussed at Tuesday's three-hour meeting, including the approval of the district wide calendar for the 2017 - 2018 school year.

But that wasn't the main item on the agenda.

The proposal for an expansion of the highly gifted program was the major topic of the night.

As of now, there are only two highly-gifted sections at Friedell Middle School, serving 64 students, in all of Rochester Public Schools.

Students are required to qualify with their test scores and then are entered into a lottery, and randomly selected.

However, more and more kids keep qualifying; this year 160 students have made the cut!

And of those 160, 149 have officially applied.

Which means with only two sections in the district, 85 students will be on a waiting list.

So on Monday night, those in charge of the program requested to expand it by two more sections to be at Kellogg Middle School, which would allow 128 students in the program.

If that were to happen, only 21 would be on the waiting list.

But the cost of those additional sections, would be roughly $240,000.

“You look at the numbers and it's clear that the big chunk of this is for staffing. To get that kind of additional staffing for the students, who need that kind of special instruction, to me is the best way to spend money,” said Jean Marvin, the Vice Chair of Rochester Public Schools School Board.

Thee major issue at hand is balancing the budget with the needs of these gifted students.

“Our concept for the rationale of this is getting every kid what he needs. Let's do something that does that. Not that gets us a little closer to there, but something that truly gets us there,” said RPS Superintendent Michael Munoz.

Also discussed was what those students who don't get selected for the highly gifted program can do, as alternative methods of higher and deeper learning.

The lottery drawing was supposed to be this upcoming Friday for next year's gifted program.

However at Tuesday's meeting it was decided that action will be taken as to expand the program or not at the RPS Board meeting on February 7th.

Therefore, the lottery will be held after that meeting, with the decision made at the meeting on the 7th taken into account.

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