La Crescent-Hokah School District Superintendent Kevin Cardille laid out an ambitious vision for the district during the annual State of the School address on Monday.

With graduation rates at 100 percent and the district set for an infusion of new funding thanks to the operating levy approved by voters in November, Cardille was able to paint a healthy picture of the district during his speech.

Most of Cardille’s report, which was delivered at La Crescent High School Fine Arts Auditorium, covered the district’s performance on their World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) plan, which each district is mandated by the Minnesota Department of Education to provide annually.

The five goals of La Crescent-Hokah’s WBWF are that district students are ready for kindergarten, grade three students are achieving grade level averages, achievement gaps are closed, students are college and career ready by graduation and that all students graduate.

The main area Cardille said the district needs to focus on is the test score averages for the district’s third graders.

In 2016, La Crescent-Hokah third grade math scores were at 56 percent, below the state average of 69 percent. Last school year, math scores for third-graders rose to 61 percent, but were still under the state’s annual average of 68 percent. Cardille said this is an area for concern, but he’s confident with the direction the scores are moving.

“If you look at the graph of our district with what’s gone on in the past few years,” Cardille said. “We’re on a nice climb, so if we can continue that upward, we’ll get to where we want to be.”

Reading score averages displayed a better performance by district third graders, as the school’s average in 2016 went from being six percentage points below the state average, to 2017 when district scores were five percentage points higher than the state average.

Although he voiced optimism for raising the math scores, Cardille said he believes the district can perform significantly better on all scores.

“We think at La Crescent-Hokah, there’s no reason all of our students and all of our test scores can’t be maybe 10 percent over the state average,” he said. “I think we don’t represent the demographic profile of the state, and so we should be better than that. That’s something very important for us to work on.”

Cardille also spoke of the importance of getting students at the same level when they enter kindergarten with the proper early childhood and preschool programs, so that when they reach grade school, they aren’t already falling behind.

“They’re not all going to be at the same level, but we at least need them at a level we need them to be,” he said. “We don’t want them behind.”

As far as college credit opportunities, Cardille credited Secondary Principal Steve Smith and High School Counselor Abby Kemp for putting together and expanding various concurrent, articulation and advanced placement options within the last year.

Through concurrent agreements, students can take a La-Crescent-Hokah course and get credit through the colleges the district partners with. With articulation, students can take high school credits that will go towards their college credits at a specific school, while advanced placement courses can be used as college credit nationwide if they score high enough on an end of the year exam.

Graduation rates at La Crescent-Hokah high school finally rose to 100 percent in the 2016-2017 school year, after hovering around the 97 percent mark for the past four years.

Cardille also spoke about the district’s fund balance history, and the district’s policy of getting their fund balance to the 5-12 percent range of what they have in their total budget. He said the district wants to make sure they have enough funds of roughly two to three months of expenses, but they are not a bank, and don’t plan to stockpile an excess of funds. The district has been able to bring their fund balance from 25 percent of their budget in 2013, down to 11 percent in 2017.

The superintendent ended his presentation by extending thanks the community for the support they received in 2017.

“I want to thank you for the support, and not only for the support in November, but for being here tonight and listening,” Cardille said. “We’re going to make sure we do some great things for students.”