At the September 13 school board meeting, board members,Jill Harstad, David Sowinski, Mark Johnsrud, Katie Priebe and Tom Keefe were present as well as Superintendent Ed Harris, principals Shane McBroom and Eric Nelson, Rinnea Kreter, administrative assistant and Trista O’Connor, business manager. Also present were Student Senate members Kiera Kobs and Mary Halvorson. Board member Josh Thompson was not present.
Kobs said that seniors enjoyed their first day of school with the Welcome Back breakfast and the next day met as a class for the traditional Senior Sunrise event. Mary Halvorson stated that Homecoming is set for the week of September 25-30. She listed all the events and dress-up days for the week.
Elementary principal, Shane McBroom along with all the other administrative stated that the first weeks of school have gone very well and it was exciting to have the students back in the building. McBroom listed the drills that will be conducted throughout the year, that include fire (five), Lockdown/ALICE (one), Take Cover/Tornado (one) and one Evacuation drill. Data from the MCA test results are being reviewed and the staff is looking at trends and seeking out strategies to improve. The tests did reveal that Chatfield students continue to score above the state averages.
According to Eric Nelson, high school principal, Chatfield High School MCA test scores largely mirrored the trends and performance levels of other Minnesota students. Nelson spent a good amount of time explaining the MCA testing results. The data did show that attention must be payed to all academic areas but particularly to high school math and science. Test apathy plays a role in the significance of these tests as well and will continue to be a barrier to effort even with greater use of data. Some students don’t see value in the assessment and usually guess when they come across difficult questions. He said he could not quantify if COVID had any impact on learners’ development. The high school MTSS (Multiple Tiered System of Support) team and the PLC (Professional Learning Community) leads will be digging deeper into the data to determine appropriate interventions. Some interventions already added to the curriculum for this year are Automobile Literature to provide higher interest themes to encourage reading and a fall trimester math skills course for a review before students take Algebra 2 winter and spring semester. A reading skills course will be offered to juniors and seniors that places emphasis on the development of nonfiction reading skills like textbooks, academic questions, news articles, user manuals, documents and instructions which is often the lower performing portion of many students’ MCA reading assessments.
Superintendent Harris addressed the downward trend of enrollment primarily due to graduating classes now being larger than incoming kindergartens and what this will mean for the district. He stated, “Historically, expenditures have risen faster than revenues, which necessitates the need for a periodic budget correction by cuts and/or an increase in the operating levy by school district voters. However, in the past couple of years, recent hikes in the cost of labor, goods, energy and services have intensified this cyclical expenditure/revenue imbalance. The expenditure/revenue imbalance is and will continue to be further exacerbated by this year’s significant drop in enrollment which will be followed up with yet lower enrollment in the years to come based on the present projections. We will start the budget correction process this winter for the 2024-2025 school year which should also include contemplation of a request for the community to approve an increase in the operating levy within the next couple of years. The last increase in local revenue approved by Chatfield voters came after budget cuts in a 2015 election. Previous to that, the last approved increase approved by voters was in 2010. The operating levy referendum/election in November of 2021 was a renewal of the 2015 amount (no additional money).”
Harris reported the Facility Study Group had met with ISG at 5:30 pm to begin the process of determining needs relating to facilities that serve activities and next steps. This process came about in response to growing questions about the adequacy of our facilities that serve activities. The group is made up of 40 community members, staff and coaches.
Under the consent agenda the August 9 and August 29 special meeting minutes were approved.
Also approved were:
• Seniority list for SY 2023-2024
• High school and elementary student handbooks
• High school and elementary Disciplinary Matrix
• New hires: Eric Ottman – second shift custodian, high school; Rebecca Jenneke – preschool substitute; Cheri Stageberg – Math League advisor; Danielle Anderson – Valleyland teacher; Homecoming DJ; Samantha Baker – Valley Childcare assistant
• Resignations: Emma Hansen – One Act Play
• Winter assistant coaches:
o Girls basketball: Ryan Kivimagi – junior varsity; Kaitlin Ellringer – ninth grade; Josh Thompson – eighth grade; Josh Whalen – seventh grade
o Boys basketball: Damien Nickelsen – junior varsity; eighth and ninth – open; Josh Berhow – seventh grade
o Wrestling: Chad Curry, Sean Trewin and Jason Goetzinger – assistants
o Dance: Demery Maughan and Anna Johnson – assistants
Under action items, the following were approved:
• Certify Projected Levy Payable SY 2023-24
• FY 24 Business Manager Employment Agreement (Trista O’Connor)
• FY 24 Head Engineer Employment Agreement (Steve Irish)
• Employee Handbook
The meeting was adjourned. The next school board meeting will be on October 11 in the high school Forum room at 7 p.m.