We’ll be ready when the school year starts

Superintendent’s Report, by Nancy Rajanen

As the calendar turns to the month of August and the stores begin their Back to School promotions, it always makes me smile.
While our efforts are totally invisible to our students, we put in a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes over the summer months, to make sure that we are ready to open the doors for students on Sept. 4. The 3,400 students that will descend upon the Waconia Schools in one month will see a variety of things that are new and different. What are those changes?
Let’s start with people: The freshman class at Waconia High School will pass the 300 student enrollment mark for the first time in its history. Those students will be meeting a new Assistant Principal named Dr. Judy Nagel, who joined our district from the Eastern Carver County School District.
Jeff Jeska, WHS assistant principal for 11 years has been named District Technology Director, and has been working on our new network and innovative technology options for students.
What about facilities? Students at Southview won’t be quite as crowded at bus time, thanks to new sidewalk cutout areas on the west side of the building. Southview parents worked with the district to design and build a space that looks beautiful, and provides increased safety as well. On the east side, a revision has been made to the parking lot and sidewalk to avoid pooling of water near the entrances.
Over at Bayview, the track has been repaved, and a water drainage system was added to avoid spillage onto the track.
The Meuwissen athletic field is looking beautiful after major reconditioning of the field, and will provide a safer and softer surface for our student athletes.
Electronically, the District has installed a new wireless network which will greatly expand the capabilities for teachers to implement technology in their instruction. Two new computer labs will enhance opportunities for students at Clearwater Middle School.
How about instructional programs? Our elementary schools will expand daily Spanish instruction from grade one to grades 1 & 2, with continued expansion planned for the next two years.
For the first time, four classes of Mandarin Chinese will be taught at Waconia High School, providing students the opportunity to learn a language that 20 percent of the world’s population speaks.
Down the hall, our 10th grade biology students will receive an iPad to use for their science instruction, with instructors designing interactive instruction on the devices.
The Area Learning Center, formerly operated by Carver-Scott Educational Cooperative, will now be run by the Waconia District, with students receiving support for high school graduation credit.
All of these changes are needed by schools in order to adjust to the times.  We pledge to continue providing outstanding education for our students in a cost efficient manner, as we prepare them for the world they will inherit.