Students at the high school level have four years to make a decision.

While more and more attention is being paid at younger levels about college and career choices, it is during the high school years when a student decides where they will go and what they want to be.

Those offering guidance through that process are able to provide opportunities for them to learn about different options as they study areas of interest.

For students in the Redwood Area School District, that list of options just got a little longer.

Starting with the 2018-19 school year, students in Grades 9-12 at RVHS will have more chances to explore through a new set of course offerings. One year from now the new Estebo Career and Technical Training Center is set to open. 

With that new facility comes added options, especially in the areas of agriculture, technology and health.

According to Rick Jorgenson, RVHS principal, there will be a variety of classes offered from medical terminology to building trades, as well as marketing and workplace communication.

Jorgenson said there are currently 49 electives being offered to students, and, while that may seem like a lot, the reality is there are areas that students are not being exposed to through the local high school.

“We want to offer students as many opportunities as is possible,” said Jorgensen.

In order to make that happen, the high school is also changing its philosophy and will be providing more options by reducing the amount of weeks students are in some of these elective classes.

Currently, when a student selects certain electives they are in that class for an entire semester. Rather than continue down that track, Jorgenson said the new schedule would allow for students to take an elective class for one quarter, which then would allow them to take something else the second half of that semester.

For Jorgenson, it’s all about exposure.

What classes are being offered each school year will depend on the students. If enough students sign up for a class it will be offered. The plan will be to start offering some of the classes during the first quarter of the upcoming school year, with others offered at the start of the second semester after the career and training center facility opens.

In addition, a new course will be offered to the freshman class that incorporates a variety of topics in technical and agricultural areas, with an added focus on practical learning in areas such as personal finance. Jorgensen said when it comes to the personal finance offering students would learn the basics of finance, such as understanding what it really means to use a credit card.

“The personal finance class is one parents have been asking for,” said Jorgensen.

Students at the high school level will begin registering for classes in the coming weeks, and they will have the chance to learn more about the new schedule and the new class offerings as that process continues.

“If this is successful, we will be adding more classes in the future,” said Jorgensen, adding that option becomes more of a reality as the new facility opens in 2019.

In other action during its Jan. 22 meeting, the Redwood Area Board of Education:

• Authorized the school district administration to move forward with a plan to offer greater onsite support for the special education staff. According to Rick Ellingworth, Redwood Area School District superintendent, the plan would provide for a greater level of leadership to help manage the expanding needs of a growing special education student population as well as the needs of a young and inexperienced special education staff.

The board approved moving forward with the development of a special education leader position in the district who will help the staff school wide with paperwork related to special education as well as provide guidance for all teachers on instruction strategies.

The person in the leadership position would also help with placement of special education students and serve as a liaison to the school’s director of teaching and learning.

The district would also continue its existing relationship with the Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative, which is providing a special education director on a 40-day contract. While there was some discussion about increasing that director position, the board opted to give the new staff leader position a try before increasing that role.

• Approved a two year contract for the 2018-19 and 2019-2020 school years with Rick Ellingworth, Redwood Area School District superintendent, with a salary of $138,300 (a 2.82 percent increase) for the first year and a salary of $142,300 (a 2.74 percent increase) in the second year.

• Approved the employment of Jenna Stephenson as a high-school science teacher starting with the 2018-19 school year at a salary of $45,000.

• Approved the employment of Brenna Elwell as a special education teacher starting with the 2018-19 school year at a salary of $49,000.

• Approved the employment of Bobby Elwell as an RVMS/HS health and physician education teacher starting with the 2018-19 school year at a salary of $50,000.

• Accepted the resignation of Erik Rheinheimer from his position as the trap team coach.

• Accepted with regrets the retirements of Gale Morley, fifth-grade language arts and social studies teacher, and Donalee Josephson, middle-school keyboarding, computer and FACS teacher, effective at the end of the 2017-18 year.

• Approved the employment of Todd Steve as assistant golf team coach at a salary of $3,069.

• Elected its officers for 2018, including Jim Buckley as chair, Jim Boots and clerk and Wayne Junker as treasurer.

• Approved a request from administration to apply for Title VI and Impact Aid funding.