The Chatfield School Board met on September 18, 2017, at 7 p.m. in the high school media center. Board members Jerry Chase, Lanny Isensee, Scott Backer, Katie Priebe, Matt McMahon and Amy Jeffers were present, along with Superintendent Harris, Business Manager Karyl Lyons and Administrative Assistant Lorri Lowrey. Principal reports gave information concerning a new program called Gopher Time in the elementary and increased community involvement in this year’s homecoming at the high school. Also discussed were new possibilities for the new S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) addition to the high school.
There were no board committee reports. Craig Ihrke, elementary principal, reported on the success of the before school conferences held on September 5 and 6 where students met their teacher one on one, had reading levels checked and vision and hearing checked, and school pictures taken. He stated this seems to be a great way to reduce anxiety in students when they can meet their teacher for a short conference before school starts. A new program called Gopher Time is being instituted in the elementary this year. Each week students and staff meet to create nurturing connections and positive relationships by working in multi-age groups around a monthly common theme. September’s theme is “Respect, Responsibility, and Safety” (https://youtu.be/twmic5cCGBo), in which students get to know others and learn about Gopher Values. Fall NWEA testing is in progress and students are doing a great job of taking the tests seriously.
Randy Paulson, high school principal, thanked all the teachers for a great start to the new school year considering all the preparation needed to set up their classrooms after they were remodeled. He also thanked the SpEd (Special Education) staff of Kirsten Johnston, new teachers Tom Moody and Amy Miron, and HVED (Hiawatha Valley Education District) SpEd coordinator Dawn Kullot for the time they spent restructuring their department to help students better achieve their goals. Homecoming this year, according to Paulson, will take on a new look to involve more people, as student senate advisor Mrs. Olson and the student senate have developed new plans that will have a carnival and booths prior to football game on October 6 from 3-6 p.m. Coronation will take place at 6:15 p.m. that same day at the football field. With the new S.T.E.M. under construction, Mr. Paulson has been in discussions with the Minnesota State College Southeast (MSC Southeast) to possibly have a CIS (College In the Schools) class as an extension of the college in the high school. There may even be a possibility of evening classes being offered from MSC Southeast. Mr. Paulson reported the weight room has temporarily been moved to the new storage room as renovation for the new science rooms has begun. They should be finished by Christmas. New flooring is being installed in locker rooms.
Superintendent Ed Harris reported that the phase II construction is on budget and on schedule with appropriate contingency funds. Excavation and sight preparation are almost completed for the new S.T.E.M./Tech Ed/Agriculture Science wing. Concerning the preliminary tax levy, Harris stated that there will be a modest overall increase of 3.36%. The good news is that agricultural property owners will see a 40% tax credit (reduction) on bonded debt levy. As far as negotiations with non-certified staff, Mr. Harris said this is in the early stages and requests will be refined and referred to the school board negotiating team.
Consent items approved by the board were minutes from the August 30 board meetings, fund raisers for the 2017-18 school year, fall play advisor, Rachel Scheiffelbein; and resignation of preschool assistant, Leslie Roline. The first reading of district policies was presented and the second reading of district policies was approved.
Under new business, the board approved the projected levy payable in 2018. A short discussion was held about whether the school district should look at adding soccer to its list of activities. Board member Jerry Chase said it would be a good idea to start the conversation with the athletic director.
Upcoming events are: Homecoming Week, October 2-8; Parent Teacher Conferences, October 16 and 17; and no school during MEA, October 19 and 20. The next school board meeting will be on October 16 at 7 p.m. in the high school media center.