Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.
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The Farmington School District and five of its schools have been identified for failing to meet Adequate Yearly Progress goals. The state's AYP measure sets minimum standards public schools and school districts must meet for all students. Results are based in large part on students' performance on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests in math and reading. Farmington students as a whole scored above state averages on the MCA tests, but progress toward AYP goals also takes into account the performance of subgroups that can be as small as 20 students.
In the back room of a small space in the Farmington Industrial Park, somebody's new counter top is taking shape. The long rectangle is being shaped by a large saw that spits water as it cuts through a 55-square-foot slab of granite. For a homeowner, the sound means a fresh look for a kitchen, or perhaps the finishing touch on a new home. For Dave Preston, it's the sound of a new business coming to life. Preston officially launched Town & Country Granite Aug. 15 at the Dakota County Fair. His showroom and the rest of the public space in his office were still taking shape earlier this month.
Barring weather problems, mechanical issues or significant international incidents, by the time you read this I'll be in Berlin. Given what I know about German culture, I assume that means I'll be spending my time eating cured meat products and sauerkraut and drinking strong beer. I assume I'll be wearing lederhosen. They issue those at customs, right? In theory, I ought to be well prepared for this trip. I took German classes from junior high through my freshman year of college. I learned ... well, that's the point, I guess. I'm not sure what I learned.
There was no easing into things when Josh Hampsher came to New Heights Christian Fellowship. The new pastor came to Farmington at a time when the church was trying to figure out how to deal with a roof in need of repair and the water damage that resulted from that leaky roof. The church has decided to sell the building and currently meets at Farmington's Rambling River Center while looking for a better solution. Hampsher has had to figure all of that out while settling in after moving from North Carolina.
Students in Farmington schools performed better than their peers statewide at nearly all levels on the most recent Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment math and reading tests. Only Farmington High School juniors, who took the MCA-II math test, met state standards at a rate lower than the state average. Fourth graders at Farmington Elementary School also trailed the state average on the MCA reading test, but fourth graders as a whole were above the state average. Students in third through eighth grade and high school sophomores took the MCA reading test last spring.
If the key to a happy life is taking chances, then why don't we? What are we so afraid of? Is it the possibility of failure, or could it be the fear of rejection? Either way you look at it, I can't think of anything that has happened recently that doesn't have something to do with taking a chance. If everyone just gave up on their goals then the world would probably fall apart. Nothing would get done and you could kiss whatever happiness you had goodbye. You can't always be afraid of failure. Last time I checked nobody is perfect.
The Farmington School Board approved a new contract for teachers Monday night that includes a total-package increase of 6.96 percent over the two years of the deal. Base salaries for teachers will not increase in the first year of the contract, which will be retroactive to July 1. Salaries will include a 1 percent increase in the second year of the deal. The new contract, approved by teachers last week, also includes language that allows the superintendent to waive the maximum number of teachers who may be absent for personal leave reasons.
From helping students identify their talents to year-round school, Farmington School Board members and superintendent Jay Haugen had some big ideas on their minds at a Friday night board retreat. Haugen organized the meeting as a way to familiarize board members with his thoughts on education, where it's going and what it can become in Farmington.
There weren't as many students as the most recent numbers projected, but classes were still a bit crowded on the first day of school last week. There were 180 more students in Farmington schools Sept. 6 than were enrolled on the last day of school in June and about 100 more than were enrolled on the first day of school in 2010. But that's still about 40 fewer students than the most recent projections anticipated. Projections in the weeks before school started called for as many as 6.652 students districtwide.
A leaky roof is forcing Farmington's New Heights Christian Fellowship out of its home. The church opened its doors in 2004 in the former Farmington Lutheran Church building on Walnut Street, but in recent weeks a for-sale sign has shown up on the church's lawn.