At the Mabel-Canton School Board meeting January 16, Superintendent Gary Kuphal shared that he was “disappointed, but not surprised” when the Decorah School Board basically said they were no longer interested in doing anything with Mabel-Canton. Kuphal shared that he was not quite ready to give up on the situation. At the December Decorah board meeting, Kuphal was given only three minutes to speak during the public comment period. The Decorah board decided to no longer have an agreement with Mabel-Canton to allow Iowa students to attend Mabel-Canton.
Kuphal had asked to be on the agenda for the Decorah January meeting; the response from the Decorah superintendent was that he “felt the discussion was over” and refused to place Kuphal on the agenda.
Board Chair Cristal Adkins commented that she felt it was all “dollars and cents” for the Decorah board with no concern for the students’ feelings. Diane Wilder added that she knew of a lot of upset parents in Decorah.
Possible options for the Iowa families wanting to remain at Mabel-Canton is to pursue educational guardianship. Kuphal shared that there was to be a meeting with the Iowa families and an attorney the next evening which he intended to attend as well. Kuphal wants to make sure he has the same information the parents get from the attorney and to share with the parents any future plans Mabel-Canton has.
Kuphal has been in contact with the M-C attorney, who has some ideas. The attorney noted that the General Counsel from MDE is “sympathetic” to M-C’s position. The MDE General Counsel will be talking to the General Counsel in Iowa.
Two documents have been given to M-C’s attorney to check on. Both DOPA (Delegation of Parental Authority) and an application from Iowa to Minnesota only could possibly be used in this case.
The M-C board directed Kuphal to send a letter explaining the M-C viewpoint on the situation to all of the Decorah school board members as well as to their superintendent. This letter will also request a joint meeting between the Decorah and Mabel-Canton school boards. Kuphal shared that Fillmore Central had received the same notice from Decorah that Mabel-Canton received.
The board made quick work of their organizational meeting by placing much of it on the consent agenda. The same depository, newspaper, official communication channels and law firm will be used as in the past. School board salaries remain the same. Board meeting dates remain the third Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. Authorizations for financial dealings were given once again to the business manager office and appropriate administration.
The board officers were re-elected to the same positions they held last year and their committee assignments also remain the same.
In the consent agenda, the board recognized generous donations of $8,825 for HUDL cameras from Barney’s Bar & Grill, Mabel Lions, Dylan Delaney Memorial, Local Union 669 Sprinkler Fitters, M-C Booster Club and JoAnne Hosting. Sherry Johnson donated $45 for school supplies, and $80.71 worth of art supplies was donated in memory of Jim Blagsvedt. The board was amazed at the consistent support of the community.
In other business the board:
•Approved the revised budget for 2023-2024 with very few changes;
•Passed a resolution establishing combined the M-C school as the polling place in the event that the school has an election not held the same day as a general election;
•Passed a standard resolution directing the administration to make recommendations for reductions in programs or staffing if needed (Kuphal stated that he doesn’t expect to need to need to do this.);
•Discussed the superintendent position for the 2024-2025 school year; both the board and Superintendent Kuphal are interested in his continuing in the position;
•Approved policy updates that MSBA suggested; the board will next review school policies starting in the 500 series which affect students;
•Directed Kuphal to pursue further possible available grants for solar energy.
The next regular M-C school board meeting will be held February 20 at 6 p.m. in room #50 of the school; the public is welcome to attend.