The Kingsland School Board met for a work session meeting on the evening of February 6. In attendance were Superintendent Scott Klavetter, Principal Deana Dontje, board members Carmen Anderson, Gary Broadwater, Pam Freet, Kyle Rader, Cindy Seabright, and Steve Tammel.
With no additions to the agenda, the board took time to recognize and thank recent donations to the school. $35 was donated to the Kingsland Library by Scott Mulholland and Stephanie Derby in memory of Dianne Swenson. Valley Lanes bowling alley donated $500 to the school’s robotic team. In memory of their son, Aidan Miller, Dan and Karen Miller donated a portable AED device. The AED will be made available while outside or traveling.
The board noted that high school art teacher, Skylyn Vaith and activities director Laurie Hendrickson would be resigning at the end of this school year. Lindsey Gries, who helps teach special ed, is taking a leave of absence, likely through the end of this school year. The board has been open to accepting applications for long term substitutes for the position, with no takers so far. “It isn’t terribly shocking, given where the teacher market is right now. Special ed is always one of the hardest positions to fill,” said Klavetter. In order to be sure that students are having their needs met, some teachers have been asked to take on extra responsibilities for the time being. Klavater added that if they have multiple applicants with a renewed advertisement, they may hire an additional paraprofessional.
Community education director, Becky Bicknese, relayed that the school’s father daughter dance went off without a hitch, boasting 192 participants. The dance partnered with students who’ll be attending the D.C. trip, in order to help fund their excursion to the capital.
During the transportation report Klavetter brought up equipping the buses with cameras to catch drivers who would illegally pass a school bus. “You might be surprised how often it happens,” stated Klavetter, “I’d bet at least once a month we’d hear radio chatter reporting unsafe driving around the school buses.” The goal would be to have a video record of the drivers that would do this, so they may report the vehicle to law enforcement. It was also made clear that these cameras would only record the outside of the bus.
With vaping becoming a health concern for young people everywhere, Dontje reported to the board what she was doing to combat it. The school works with the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office and local health coordinators to educate students about the dangers of vaping. Kingsland will also be participating in the Minnesota Department of Health’s “Escape the Vape” video challenge. Short, PSA-style videos will be submitted, with first place receiving $500 for themselves and $500 for their school.
As a part of new business, the board considered the feasibility of installing solar panels. Having become available for K-12 schools, the Solar for Schools grant could help alleviate some of the upfront costs. A prerequisite to apply is that the school has a curriculum teaching about solar energy. Applicants must also have consultations with local electric providers as well as a member of C.E.R.T. (Clean Energy Resource Teams). During a discussion with Kingsland’s electric provider, Klavetter found that they had approved residential solar panels. However, the proposed project for the school is approximately 10 times larger than any other local solar installation. The Solar for Schools grant, in addition to a rebate program that’s part of the Inflation Reduction Act, would lower startup costs from $130,000 to $44,800. The solar panels would be expected to have a 30 year lifespan. Capable of providing around 10% of the schools electrical needs, it would take just over 11 years for the district to break even. The superintendent also brought up that solar panels produce DC power while the school runs on AC power. A converter would be needed, which would last up to 15 years, and may not be covered by a warranty. “How would this enrich our curriculum?” asked Board member Anderson.
Klavetter explained that the science curriculum already covers renewable energy. If Kingsland Schools had their own source of renewable energy, it could prove to be a valuable learning tool. Board member Broadwater voiced his opinion, stating “Any time you get rushed to do something, that’s not a good thing… I’m totally against it.” Other board members raised concerns about the panels being covered with snow through several months of the year.
Board member Freet chimed in, “I think it’s important to look at options for cleaner energy, but this doesn’t seem like the answer.” The board agreed that although it may become more viable in the future, they wouldn’t immediately take any steps towards a solar project.
Due to President’s Day, the next regular school board meeting will be held Monday, February 13 at 6 p.m. in the elementary conference room. The board’s next work session meeting will be held March 6 at 6 p.m., also in the elementary conference room.