At the November 19 Chatfield School Board meeting, all board members were present except for Matt McMahon. Also present were Ed Harris, superintendent; Lorri Lowrey, administrative assistant; Karyl Lyons, business manager and both principals, Shane McBroom and Randy Paulson.
Jason Boynton of Smith and Schaffer was present to present the financial audit. There were no issues to present and he talked briefly about some spending down of the fund balance and the constant numbers of students from year to year.
The third grade team of Ann Bolton, Kirsten Armstrong and Samantha Thorson presented a power point on the Personalized Math Units they are implementing this year in their math lessons. The advantages of this program are that students have a voice in their learning, can work at their own pace, and they become advocates for their own learning. Students are introduced to a math concept by their teacher and then can choose how they practice those skills.
Shane McBroom, elementary principal, talked about the staff meeting with Edvisions regarding a Bush Grant opportunity that would support training on personalized learning. On November 12, the elementary celebrated Veterans Day with a program that involved the band and reading of essays. The third graders also were able to listen to Judge Joe Chase talk about our wars and the importance of Veterans Day. The Lions Club has graciously provided dictionaries and rulers to all the third graders. Coming up on December 6 is Grand Friends Day for grades 4-6; bingo and refreshments at 9 a.m. with a matinee concert at 9:45 a.m. Goals have been set for the 2019 MCA scores and while Chatfield continues to achieve at a higher level than the state average, the goals this year are: 81% in reading, 77% in math and 74% in science.
At the high school, Principal Randy Paulson congratulated the band and choir for another successful and highly attended Veterans Day Concert. Congratulations were also extended to FFA members and their advisors for receiving the Three Star Chapter award at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis. This is the highest rating a chapter can receive at the national level. This year’s football team just found out that they received an Academic Gold certificate with a GPA higher than the 3.25 cut off. Only seven AA football teams in the state made gold this year. Students were given orientation this week on the implementation of flex time that will start after Thanksgiving. Flex time is a 25-minute period in the afternoon that allows students to choose time to study, attend meetings or learn new skills. On November 8, 40 students and five staff members attended the School Culture Revival at the Edina High School to learn how to infuse their school culture with the Gs: Graduation, Grit, Goals and Gratitude. They learned ideas to develop and implement ways to improve the climate and culture in their school.
Superintendent Harris briefed the board on the winding down of the construction. In terms of the budget, he predicts that they may have $100,000-$300,000 left. When he gets specifics he will bring the construction committee back together to talk about what to do with the surplus, as there are a number of things that those funds could be spent on. He reported that postcards will be sent to all district patrons, inviting them to an open house for the school remodel on November 29. He also congratulated the retiring cross country coach, Chris Frye, for his many years of dedication to this sport.
Under the Consent Agenda, the meeting minutes for October 22, 2018, and November 14, 2018, were approved. The following resignations were approved: Chris Frye, head cross country coach and Laurie Bryne, part-time one act play advisor. Also approved was the job posting for head cross country coach. New hires approved were: part-time seventh grade girls basketball coach, Katie Goldsmith and seventh and eighth grade academic triathlon coach, Jessica Hanson.
Under Old Business, Superintendent Harris brought forth information he gathered for a local policy barring school board members from being head coaches. MSBA’s opinion is that a policy barring school board members from being head coaches is unorthodox and there is no model for something like that, as state law specifically permits school board members to hold positions such as head coach. They feel that if the school board does not want a member to be a head coach, they simply ought to consider the agenda item and vote accordingly. This is what our school board has done on two occasions. Our legal counsel has never heard of a local policy such as this. Her opinion is similar to MSBA (i.e. deal with future questions using school board action). She suggests that if a policy was written it must be done cautiously as to not put itself in a libelous position. Harris’s recommendation to the board would be to not draft policy, but to address any future scenarios like this as per MSBA and legal counsel advice. The board should deal with it at the school board table when and if it should ever come up again. Past practice has already indicated that the board is not favorable to head coaches being on the school board.
Board member Scott Backer felt that to eliminate willing people is a mistake. He doesn’t feel this is a conflict of interest since a head coach does not hire or fire but all issues go through the athletic director. Small schools often have difficulty finding coaches so this limits school board members’ options. Jerry Chase, the board member who chose to be a head softball coach and leave his board position in January 2019, spoke to the same thoughts as Backer. He said many people have come forward expressing their dismay at the board’s decision.
Under New Business, the board approved two resolutions relating to the certification of the school board elections and the other one dealt with school board elections that are not held during a statewide election. The board also discussed the payment of Scott Schmaltz at 1.5 of his salary for coaching seventh and eighth grade girls basketball. Since the other coach is only paid .5, his responsibilities are greater. The board approved this request.
The meeting was adjourned. The next meeting will be December 17 at the high school forum room.