By Charlene Corson Selbee
On Wednesday, January 17, representatives from the Mabel and Canton city councils attended a joint board meeting with the Mabel-Canton School Board.
Superintendent Gary Kuphal explained that the joint board meeting started four to six years ago. The approved meeting agenda was intentionally designed informally to allow the boards to freely discuss a variety of topics of importance to their community.
The meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. by Mabel-Canton School Board member Chris Miller and his colleagues in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Representatives from city councils included Mabel Councilmember Valeria Arnold, Mabel City Clerk Karen Larson, Canton Mayor Josh Nordsving, and Canton Councilmember Christy Ziegler. M-C school board members Chris Miller, Jason Marquardt, Traci McKenzie-Livingood, and Diane Wilder were in attendance.
Superintendent Kuphal began by explaining that the joint meeting started with, “The idea of getting together and discussing what is going on from the school’s perspective. What’s going on from Mabel’s perspective! What’s going on from Canton’s perspective! Are there things that are common to the respective councils and school board that number one, people should be aware of, but two, is there any way that we can help each other as entities?”
Kuphal shared that it is important to know if there are any upcoming projects that could impact the school, such as an increase in taxes. Both towns explained that any town projects such as sewer, water or street would be paid for by increases in usage fees, not an increase in taxes. Mayor Nordsving did say that Canton will be doing a major street project projected to start in 2025. Larson confirmed that Mabel has a water project on the horizon.
Principal Michelle Weidemann started off the conversation by sharing the school’s Redefining Ready report. The initiative started in Wisconsin because it was felt that the information currently being shared did not show the whole picture of a child. There are 13 pilot schools primarily in Southeast Minnesota using the program. The metrics identify whether a student is college ready, career ready, or college and career ready. Last year, 84% of M-C students were college ready, 79% were career ready, and 74% were college and career ready.
M-C classes are looking for opportunities to participate in individual or group community service projects. For example, yard work, food drives, helping with fundraising events, or cleaning up festival grounds and parks. The school will be sending the cities information flyers to distribute to their residents.
Canton Mayor Nordsving asked about transportation for the summer rec program. Larson explained that it is a city program and that the school is not involved in the program. She added that the city does not have any money for a bus. Kuphal confirmed that Mabel does not own any buses. Wilder added that it would be great if transportation could be provided for the Canton kids.
Kuphal said that he heard at recent meetings that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is coming whether we like it or not and that it will “invade all aspects of life.” He added that we better start to understand it and utilize it for the positive that it offers. Staff development will include AI training this fall or possibly sooner.
Superintendent Kuphal cautiously brought up the topic of the M-C and Decorah School agreement in case anyone wanted an update or had any questions. Miller confirmed that the agreement with Decorah had to be renewed by January 15, 2024, and the five-year agreement legally expires on June 30, 2024. “What we have been attempting to do from a school perspective is talking with Decorah as best we can about renewing that and they have said in every way shape and form possible, no. We have not quit and are ready to give up as a school.” The school has ideas and are investigating them. Miller added, “We have not quit.”
At the end of the meeting, the group unanimously agreed that the joint board meeting should continue.
Miller thanked everyone for attending. The meeting was adjourned at 7:24 p.m.