Caledonia School Board members met in Caledonia Elementary School’s music room #162 on Tuesday, February 21, from 6-8:30 p.m. Board members present included Mike Peterson, Spencer Yohe, Melissa Marschall, Derek Adamson, Tim Gunn, and Daniel Small. In addition, Superintendent Craig Ihrke, Elementary Principal Sue Link, and Middle/High School Principal Nathan Boler attended. Those absent were Board member Leigh King, Community Education Director Gretchen Juan, and Business Manager/Finance Director Barb Meyer.
The board approved the consent agenda, minutes from the January 17 regular board meeting, minutes from the January 26 special board meeting, and spring sports coaching contracts. Prior to approval of the agenda, the board amended the agenda in rescheduling elementary counselor Sue Howe and middle/high school counselor Brent Schroeder’s presentation regarding mental health to March’s regular board meeting.
Deb Marcotte, Executive Director of HVED (Hiawatha Valley Education District), visited Caledonia and shared an informative presentation with the board regarding HVED. The presentation included what HVED is, the program itself, services offered, and how HVED is structured. Hiawatha Valley Education District offers specialized individualized instruction to qualifying students outside of traditional classroom instruction. HVED staff service certain schools on an as-needed basis. HVED’s staff consists of various professionals such as audiologists, occupational therapists, psychologists, physical therapists, behavioral specialists, etc. all to address unique needs a qualifying student has. HVED itself is structured with a representative from each district, committees, four directors, licensed staff, and support staff. Marcotte acknowledged HVED’s strengths to be the staff and their effective efficient operations. Marcotte acknowledged a challenge HVED faces to be staff scarcity and facilities available.
The board reviewed school policies 203, 203.1, 203.2, 203.5, 203.6, 204, and 205. These policies basically cover rules pertaining to school board meetings.
The board reviewed and discussed policy 514 regarding prohibition of bullying. Gunn expressed, “A policy is only as good as it is executed.” The board discussed ways to combat bullying issues present within Caledonia Area Public Schools. One topic of discussion to address bullying included stricter regulation of cell phone usage during school hours. Peterson shared, “I think the camera component sets up for liability and bullying.” Gunn, Peterson, and Superintendent Ihrke expressed curiosity on how other school districts handle cell phone usage.
Board member Adamson shared his board report and brought to attention concerns pertaining to the current middle/high school’s weight room. Adamson stated the weight room’s equipment to be outdated. The current weight room’s size is not equipped to efficiently and adequately accommodate the number of students and programs that use the area. Coaches and students are in agreement. Adamson recommended either improvements or additions are of need to ensure the school remain competitive and appealing to incoming students. Ihrke recommended the facilities committee look more into this matter.
Caledonia Elementary School students keep busy indoors when inclement outdoor weather tends to be the norm this time of year in Minnesota. Author Jenny Baertsch visited the elementary school and discussed inspiration that gave rise to her new book titled “Junkyard Tough,” in turn students shared their own love of reading with the author. Students enjoyed their school’s book fair which experienced a successful turn out this year. Friday, February 3, PACE (Parents as Allies in Children’s Education) hosted Family Fun Night which included festivities for all ages to enjoy. Elementary students took a trip to the Spring Grove movie theater, grades K-2 enjoyed the movie “Gnomeo and Juliet” while grades 3-5 enjoyed the movie “Homeward Bound.” Link commented on this being the first time some students visited a movie theater.
Speaker Terrence Talley visited both Caledonia’s elementary and middle/high schools. Talley kept elementary students’ attention through his high-energy presentation and maintained the students’ interest in discussing the four areas of being a superhero. When it came to middle/high school students, Talley offered a powerful message with focus on ‘having each other’s back’ which greatly connected with the students themselves.
Principals Link and Boler have kept busy this last month. Parent teacher conferences were held at both the elementary and middle/high schools. Both Link and Boler attended a number of meetings as well.
The next regular board meeting of the Caledonia Public School board is scheduled for Monday, March 20. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Caledonia Elementary in the music room #162. The public is invited to attend.