Chrissy Holets, parent of two Fillmore Central students, addressed the school board at their November 23 meeting. “I’m here on behalf of my kids,” she said. She explained that her third grade daughter repeatedly came home from school talking about putting her feelings in a bucket and then putting a lid on it. During conferences, Holets asked her daughter’s teacher about the bucket concept and was informed that her daughter was learning about it in Social Emotional Learning or SEL which is taught by another teacher. The teacher gave her some information and links on SEL. Holets researched it and found that SEL teaches kids strategies for dealing with emotions and goal setting and that the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) sets the standards for SEL. “The program is systematically designed to get kids to rely on the school instead of on their families,” she stated. “It leads to children sharing more information than should be shared in a school setting. It also teaches removal of personal autonomy. The goal of social emotional ideology is to teach children to all act alike within a program.” She noted that teachers and administrators may not even realize what the ultimate goal of SEL is, but that they need to be aware. “We need to cleanse our school of this indoctrination,” she said, adding that the school needs to return to just teaching education and leave the social emotional learning to the parents to teach. Holets and her husband pulled their daughter from the SEL class as it is not mandatory. “It bothers me that I didn’t even know that there was another teacher coming in and teaching my daughter,” she said. “It needs to go.” The board thanked her for her comments.
Jason Boynton with Smith Schafer & Associates gave the 2020-2021 audit report. The student enrollment number is down from 612 total students last year to 575 this school year. Boynton reviewed the district’s revenues and expenditures along with the property tax levy history and the balances and activities of the general fund, food service fund, community service fund, fiduciary fund. He also discussed the postemployment benefits, bond totals, and five year debt requirements. Overall, the district is within the appropriate percentages for the various numbers. The audit received an unmodified “clean” opinion from Smith Schafer and was approved by the board.
The fall sports have wrapped up. Congratulations were extended to eighth grade cross country runner Lillyan Kiehne who advanced to the state meet and placed 56th overall there. The football team made it to section runner-up before losing to Rushford-Peterson, and volleyball wrapped up its season playing in the Final 8 and losing to Spring Grove. The winter activities are in full swing although there is no dance team this year due to lack of participation. “It’s going to be a wonderful, very busy winter and we’re excited about that,” Superintendent Heath Olstad commented.
Thanks were extended to Ron Scheevel for his part in the Veterans Day programs held at both locations on November 11. Josh Krage was the guest speaker for both school sites. “We appreciate his service and his taking the time to share his thoughts,” said Olstad.
The virtual Scholastic book fair recently wrapped up with $243 being raised for new books for the school library. Parent-teacher conferences were held virtually this year. Like usual, the elementary school saw high levels of participation and the high school somewhat less. The virtual aspect didn’t change the participation rate for the high school, but seemed to lower it a little at the elementary. The annual blood drive took place at the high school on November 4 with 46 units being donated by staff and students. The Scholar Club Program was held on November 18 with 40 students from grades 10-12 being members. Three former Fillmore Central graduates who now teach at the school spoke during the program. “Thank you to them for sharing their thoughts and experience at Fillmore Central,” Olstad said.
Larry Bentley, Rylie Gatzke, and Taylor Ellsworth were hired as support staff, Nancy Rider as an ECFE Aide, JoAnne Howard as an aide in the One Block at a Time daycare, and Joanie Johnson as a long-term substitute. A resignation was accepted from paraprofessional Emily Moger and a maternity leave for preschool teacher Jessica Bradt was approved. William Ferrie, Eric Bengston, and Walker Ward were hired as volunteer wrestling coaches, Ericka Nagel as the head softball coach, and Alex Scrabeck as the seventh grade boys basketball coach. Due to a lack of participation for the dance team, the contracts for coaches Elisha Himli and Ashley Himli were rescinded. The Dean of Students/Athletic Director contract was renewed with Chris Mensink, the Tech Director contract with Aaron Janssen, and the Business Manager contract with Darla Ebner.
A resolution created by the Minnesota State High School League to offset student activity fees was approved by the board.
The board approved a new Spanish curriculum. Spanish teacher Brandi Rettick recommended the six year program, which includes materials, curriculum, and online lessons. “I do think it’s a great decision for our Spanish program,” Olstad noted. The total cost is $10,285.50.
Due to Business Manager Kathy Whalen’s retirement, Darla Ebner and Dani Wilcox were approved as check signers. The authority to wire-transfer funds was transferred from Whalen to Wilcox.
A transfer of funds from the milk break assistance fund to the milk break revenue fund to cover break for students in need of financial assistance was approved.
Several open enrollment requests were reviewed and approved.
Superintendent Olstad had met with the COVID committee earlier that morning and has also been in multiple meetings with other area schools in regards to a possible vaccine mandate for any entity that has over 100 employees. Fillmore Central is looking at two options and the board will vote on them once the mandate has cleared the court system. Option one would mandate that all staff who receive a paycheck from Fillmore Central would need to have proof of vaccination. Option two would allow those who are vaccinated to offer proof of that while those who choose not to be vaccinated would need to wear a mask 100% of the time at work and be tested for COVID weekly. Food service workers and bus drivers would not be required to follow the mandate as they are paid by a different company with which the school contracts. The COVID committee is still discussing how to handle volunteers as they are in the building, but do not receive a paycheck. Fillmore Central parent Chrissy Holets asked if religious exemptions would be allowed. Olstad responded that both medical and religious exemptions would be accepted.
The next Fillmore Central Board meeting will be held on December 28 at 6:30 p.m in the Preston meeting room.