During their recent visit, Minnetonka Public Schools officials said they were impressed with the New Albany-Plain Local School District.

During their recent visit, Minnetonka Public Schools officials said they were impressed with the New Albany-Plain Local School District.

"The people we've met – the teachers, the administrators, the school board, the community – are people who know what they are doing, who are willing to grow, and they have the courage to go out and look at other school districts," Minnetonka Superintendent Dennis Peterson said.

New Albany-Plain Local's benchmark research team visited the Minnetonka district Feb. 6 and 7 to study how the district changed its educational practices. Minnetonka officials visited New Albany April 18 and 19. Both trips were funded by a $50,000 donation from the New Albany Community Foundation and the Corna Kokosing Construction Co.

Minnetonka officials who visited are Peterson, high school Principal Dave Adney, middle school Principal Pete Dymit, elementary Principal Dave Parker, Communications Director Janet Swiecichowski and Communications Coordinator Jake Sturgis. They toured classrooms and met teachers, administrators and parents.

On April 18, the district hosted a community forum for the Minnetonka officials and members of the New Albany benchmarking team to share their experiences.

Peterson said he saw exceptional work in the classroom.

"(New Albany school officials) want to get better and they are setting high expectations," Peterson said.

Adney, who was unable to attend the forum, said he hopes Minnetonka can save New Albany some of the pain associated with improving. He also wants to come back to New Albany and learn more.

Minnetonka officials were asked how they get parents involved in school functions. Parker said parents want to do more meaningful things than just chaperone a field trip.

"They are in the classroom and they go beyond the walls of the classroom," he said. "It means getting them excited about meaningful opportunities to be involved with their children."

Swiecichowski said parent involvement is critical to student achievement. She said Minnetonka provides web seminars and other educational opportunities for parents to learn how to improve their children's education.

New Albany's benchmarking advisory committee spent much of 2011 developing benchmarking criteria and studying top-performing districts in the nation before choosing to study Minnetonka Public Schools.