The Chatfield School Board met in special session on February 17, 2021, with all members present. Also present were Superintendent Harris, Principals Shane McBroom and Randy Paulson, and teacher Jay Harstad.
The meeting was held to finalize the new K-12 learning plan. At the last board meeting there was a discussion of implementing in-person learning on a full-time basis and the board approved this plan that will start on Monday, March 1. There will be a prep day for teachers on Wednesday, February 24 for teachers to prepare for the change.
Other business was an approval of a quit claim deed to property that had once been the site of a one room school house that had listed the Chatfield School District as successor. It is a small lot in one corner of a field that is not of use to the district. The district in turn will receive $500 in compensation.
The rest of the meeting was a working/learning session of 11 items for discussion that was a learning experience for the three new board members and review for the remaining board members.
• Strategic planning: In 2012-2013 the district worked with a facilitator from SEC (South East Coop) to develop a strategic plan for the district. Harris stated that this might be the time to relook at this plan. Lanny Isensee asked what this would look like before they committed to it.
• Financial forecast: The model projections from the state are a 1% increase for the next two years and a 2% increase for the two years after that. Enrollment has increased and the district has actually saved money because of COVID in that there were decreased costs in some areas. The bump in the fund balance however is an anomaly because of this unusual circumstance. Projections show a slight increase in 2021 and 2022 but it flattens out in 2023. Harris pointed out that looking at the three-year projections, it is crucial to renew the levy that comes due this fall. He advised the board that they should plan a financial meeting in the near future to discuss this levy.
• School board policy: Harris went over the difference between open and closed meetings, talked about the Code of Ethics that board members need to adhere to and how district patron time should be conducted.
• Chain of command/complaint-appeal process: There is a process that must be followed when there is a concern brought to the board.
• Media relations: The superintendent is the media spokesperson unless the board chair has been designated.
• Staff evaluation process: Jay Harstad, middle school math teacher, explained the process that is used for teacher evaluation. There are six categories in the review process but the three main ones are PLCs (Profession Learning Communities) action plans, student surveys and state mandates. The principal observes non-tenured staff three times a year; tenured staff every three years. Tenured staff are peer reviewed in the years when they are not observed by the principal. The evaluation tool used is a computer program called iObservation that evaluates in four domains: classroom structure and behavior, planning and preparing, reflection and collegiality and professionalism.
• School board meeting mechanics: Harris explained how a consent agenda should be used, the different types of meetings, how an abstention vote should be used and what to do if there is a conflict of interest on a vote.
• Employee contracts: The three types of contracts are union, agreements and contracted.
• Curriculum instruction: Professional Learning Communities: The purpose of PLCs is to “share expertise to enhance the learning environment where all students can reach their full potential.” These were started in 2011 and were a major reason that reacting to the pandemic situation was made easier because of the collaboration of the PLCs.
• School lunch accounts: Over the last 10 years the lunch account debts have accumulated to $24,000. Harris went over the process (letters sent, free and reduced paperwork offered, phone calls) used to collect these debts but feels another system needs to be implemented. The district could just write them off, but he suggested that starting next school year they would give them to a collection agency. Harris will do more research and advise the board on developing a plan so that parents are aware of what will happen if school lunch debt continues.
• High school/elementary site plan: With the moving of the pool, the high school campus has a large area that is unpaved and traffic flow is not functional and is a safety issue. Harris asked Benike Construction for a proposal to develop a new plan that would complete the newer high school site. This proposal would add parking spaces, provide better school bus parking, and a safer traffic pattern. New lighting would also be included in this plan. At the elementary school, parking and entrance for preschool parents and students would allow for them to exit and enter the school from their own parking lot and sidewalk. The cost for all of these improvements would be approximately 1.3 million and a tax abatement bond could be used to finance this.
The meeting adjourned and the next regular meeting will be March 10, in the high school forum room.