At the February 7 school board meeting, board members Jill Harstad, David Sowinski, Josh Thompson and Tom Keefe were present as well as Superintendent Ed Harris, principals, Shane McBroom and Eric Nelson, and Trista O’Connor, business manager. Student Senate members Kylie Sinn and Jorja Fishbaugher were also present. Board members Mark Johnsrud and Katie Priebe were absent.
Student Senate member Fishbaugher informed the board that the Snowball Dance scheduled for Snow Week has been cancelled, mostly because of conflicts with other activities and from a survey showing there would be low numbers attending. The Student Senate is selling Valentine lollipops that will be delivered on Valentine’s Day.
Principal McBroom expressed the need for substitutes and encouraged any interested party to apply. He thanked his staff for their flexibility and willingness to cover when they are needed. The elementary celebrated School Counselor/Social Worker Week on February 5-9 and Paraprofessional/Custodian/Tech Support Week on January 22-28. He thanked them all for their commitment to the students and staff.
Principal Nelson shared more information about the READ Act legislated last year. The first phase needs to be completed by July 1, 2025, and will involve mostly the primary grades. The second phase must be completed by July 1, 2026, and will involve upper grade levels and high school. The implications for the district will mean expense for hiring subs while teachers are training. Some of the training may be done after school hours but this is not always feasible. Training includes three options with varying costs and hour requirements. The trainings are scheduled to be paid for by the State, which is contributing $16 million; however that is likely way below the total required. The district will also need to contract with the publishers of Fastbridge, a universal screener that meets the fall/winter and dyslexia requirements. The Fastbridge results will identify students requiring an intervention plan. Nelson announced that Evelyn Goldsmith has been selected for the Athena Award by the varsity coaches for the women’s teams. Evy was selected based on her overall excellence in three sports. She will be recognized at an event at the St. Paul River Center in April. This award is made possible by the sponsorship of the Old Barn and the Dundore family. The Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) is a growing program within the district and Minnesota. It provides opportunities for high school student to take college courses while still in high school and the district pays for these courses and the required books. It can save students a lot of money and is a great option for many students. A point of concern, however, is that the advising related to PSEO has often times neglected to include some important considerations. He listed all of the considerations and explained that the school is not trying to prevent students from participating but want them to make an informed decision.
Superintendent Harris showed the board the projected enrollment figures for the next six years and reminded them that this will impact the budget down the road. The encouraging news is that next year’s kindergarten class enrollment is much higher than expected. He then addressed the retirement of social studies teacher, Lee Becker. He thanked him for his 27 years of service, his expertise in teacher negotiations and for his planning of the eighth grade Washington, D.C. trip every year. Harris presented information on the Solar Grant Program and asked the board’s permission to proceed with the application process. There is not an upfront cost to install or any maintainence cost for 20 years and could save money on energy costs. The board later approved his making an application for the grant, acknowledging that the board would need to vote on the final decision.
Under the consent items the board approved:
• Minutes of the January 11, 2024 minutes
• New hires: Mchael Lisowski and Lindsey Whalen, varsity trap head coaches; Brian Kobs, Tony Johnson and Jesse Finley, assistant trap coaches; Erica Holland, Title One para; Hailey Hammill and Brynn Schad, Valleyland aides
• Job postings for: assistant baseball coach; assistant softball coach; assistant golf coach; 7-12 social studies teacher
• Retirement: Lee Becker, social studies teacher
The meeting was adjourned. The next meeting will be on March 13 in the high school Forum room at 7 p.m.