Mabel-Canton School Board members regretfully accepted the resignation of Daryl Melbostad, building maintenance supervisor, at the March 21 regular school board meeting.
Superintendent Gary Kuphal explained, “It is extremely difficult to find school custodians.” Kuphal recommends that the school take a serious look at custodian wages. The head custodian position is hourly, and maybe it should be a salary position. The school has had an open position all year, and now the head custodian position. Principal Weidemann confirmed that the school ran an ad in three area newspapers this past month, Fillmore County Journal, Driftless Journal, and the Caledonia Argus, and did not get any applications. Kuphal told the board, “Daryl said he is working all the time and can’t take time off.”
Chairperson Adkins called the meeting to order at 6:01 p.m. and led the board and audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. The board approved the meeting agenda with two additions to the list of action items and the minutes from the February 21 regular school board meeting.
Board members present include Cristal Adkins, Chris Miller, Diane Wilder, Mark Weidemann, Dustin Tollefsrud, Traci McKenzie-Livingood, and Jason Marquardt.
In one swift motion, the board unanimously approved the consent agenda, including the 2021-22 budget; claims report; hired Coranda Vickerman as the junior high softball coach, and thanked Garness Trinity Lutheran Church, City of Mabel, M-C Booster Club, and Bill and Susan Goodman for their donations.
Matthew McClimon and Anna Wheat, Student Council representatives, reported that baseball and softball practice had started, the annual ski trip was this month, and over 1,100 tickets were sold for the senior class turkey dinner. McClimon answered the board member’s question regarding the dine-in or take-out format of the meal. The people who purchased tickets commented that they preferred take-out and would not have bought a ticket if it had been dine-in. The large group contest on March 13 went well. Mabel-Canton received excellent overall, and the choir got two excellences and one superior. The Chanhassen trip is Thursday, March 23, and the seniors leave in nine days for the senior class trip to Washington, D.C.
The curriculum review committee is “getting back on track” after COVID threw the school off track. Kuphal explained, “We are on a six-year cycle, and every department is in either year 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 — designated activities, especially the first three years. In year three, it is the implementation of the curriculum, and 4, 5, and 6 are monitoring and adjusting.”
Wilder reported that Hiawatha Valley Education District (HVED) plans to build in Winona to consolidate everyone under one roof.
Marquardt reported that he was elected treasurer at the last Southeast Service Cooperative meeting.
Principal Michelle Weidemann wished the seniors well on their upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., adding, “We have exceptional kids. We really do.” The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) testing is from March 30 through April. MCA is a statewide, annual test measuring reading, mathematics, and science achievement. The ATT testing is on April 4 at the community center. Weidemann reported that at least 80 kids attended the snowball dance.
Negotiations with the teachers have started. The first meeting was to set ground rules. The teachers presented their proposal at the second meeting, and the school will present its proposal at the third meeting, scheduled for March 22. Kuphal said, “Since I’ve been here, this is the earliest we have ever started. Both sides agree to have at it and have negotiations done before the end of the school year.”
Kuphal reported, “There are a lot of bills in the state legislature right now.” State educational organizations proposed a 5% increase in general aid for next year as well as the second year. Kuphal emphasized, “it is largest increase I have ever seen.” Kuphal noted that it traditional 2% in the first year and 2% in year two. The governor asked for 4% in year one and 2% in year two. There are also a number of unfunded bills which if all passed would have a huge impact on rural schools.
The board approved petitions from five students living in the Decorah school district to attend Mabel-Canton. Decorah already approved the petitions. Kuphal reminded the board that the five-year tuition agreement with Decorah expires after the 2023-2024 school year.
Senior class president Kelly McClimon and vice president Matthew McClimon appeared before the board to request two days off the week of graduation, thus, making May 26 the last day of school for the seniors. In addition, the class officers promised in their letter, “If the board agrees to let the senior class get out early, the senior class will not have a senior skip day and will not be allowed to do a senior prank.” After hearing from board members, the board unanimously approved the request.
In other business, the board:
• Unanimously approved the capital/LTFM proposal from the facilities committee. The total cost is $51,500. The committee has a walk-through tour on March 22 to prioritize the list;
• Approved the resolution discontinuing and reducing educational programs and positions;
• Approved the resolution to place Tamitha Peter on unrequested leave of absence for a .2 FTE reduction;
• Approved by roll call the Senate File 2615 and House File 2917 board resolution;
The meeting was adjourned at 7:15 p.m.
The next school board meeting is April 18 at 6 p.m. in Mrs. Peter’s science room number 50. The public is welcome to attend.