The COVID-19 era requiring social distancing has required public meetings to be held via internet and that is just how the Chatfield School Board met on Wednesday night, April 1. Using the Zoom video conferencing app for the first time were all the board members (Amy Jeffers, Lanny Isensee, Scott Backer, Katie Priebe, Matt McMahon and Rick Lowrey). Other meeting participants were Ed Harris, superintendent; principals Shane McBroom and Randy Paulson; Lorri Lowery, administrative assistant; and Trista O’Connor, business manager. Student senate members Ben Muller and Peter Hebrink were also present.
Student senate member Ben Muller said the distant learning is going well and was amazed at how fast teachers were able to facilitate it. He added that the Zoom app is great because he knows when his teachers will be available if he needs to talk with them. Peter Hebrink concurred with Ben and said that other than the Schoology program crashing the first day, things are going well.
Superintendent Harris thanked all teachers, support staff, office staff, and principals for their efforts to get to the point of successfully launching distance learning despite some technical bugs that were out of their control. These people have and will be going above and beyond during the closure period. He also thanked the students and parents for being patient and understanding of how significant this undertaking is on relatively short notice. The kitchen staff is preparing 200 meals per day while school staff and Bernard Bus are delivering them to Chatfield students each school day. The district is also providing care for nearly two dozen children of state designated critical workers. Other items in his report were the progress of the new storage building that requires a zoning variance. Bids for this building are due by April 17. Harris said that he will offer some minor updates to the 2021 budget and asked that the recommendations be moved to the May meeting as there are no non-renewals of staff pending at this time that make this agenda item time-sensitive. Several proposals have come to the Finance and Facilities Committee from the Youth Softball Association and the Youth Baseball Association to partially fund structures to enhance their programs but no action has been taken. He explained that the winter head coach contracts were taken off the consent agenda because there was some question about the completeness of season end processes and that the board may want in-person discussion at the May meeting concerning this issue. Lastly he congratulated Julie Boyum, who is retiring after 31 years of service to the district.
Both principals McBroom and Paulson were very appreciative and thankful for the way their staffs stepped up to the task of providing distant learning for the students. It took a whole community effort as parents, too, were flexible and understanding during this new time of distant learning. At the elementary there will be no MCA testing this spring and Kindergarten Round-Up is postponed for the time being. Paulson said the senior class trip has been cancelled, prom has been rescheduled for May 23, the spring play will be performed on May 22, and the 7-12 band and choir concert is rescheduled for May 11. He did note that if activities in May are cancelled they will be postponed indefinitely. All contests, meets and practice for April have been cancelled. The ACT tests will be rescheduled and the Advance Placement testing may be online this year.
The consent agenda was approved that included the approval of meeting minutes held on March 3, and March 12, the job posting for summer school teachers and paras, the resignation of Scott Schmaltz, eighth grade girls basketball coach; and the retirement of Julie Boyum, ADSIS grade 4-6 teacher.
Under action items the board approved the Discontinuation of Policy 617 School District Ensurance of Preparatory and High School Standards that is no longer necessary since Profiles of Learning has been repealed.
The meeting was adjourned and the next meeting will be May 6 either in the forum room in the high school or by tele-conference depending on the COVID-19 situation.