During the regular monthly meeting of the Mabel-Canton School Board on February 19, snow days were a major discussion. Members present were Mark Weidemann, Jason Marquardt, Chris Miller, business manager Aimee Lake, Principal Michelle Weidemann, Board chair Cristal Adkins, High School Secretary Lynette Donald, Diane Wilder, Liz Hershberger, Traci Livingood, and Superintendent Gary Kuphal. Student representative Payton Danielson absent. No members of the public asked to address the board.
Regarding the unexpected number of days of school missed due to weather, Superintendent Kuphal explained that he’s been working on the best solution, and said that, “The first three days are excused. Days four and five, we’ve made up, one yesterday (February 18) and another one in April. Days six and seven we don’t have students make up, but we have staff make up. And we didn’t know how many more days we’re going to have, so we said let’s just put everything on hold.” He said that Michelle Wiedemann created a spreadsheet for staff to make up days six and seven within two weeks of the days canceled. “They can work extra hours, they can work nights, weekends, they can take PTO if they have vacation days,” Kuphal explained.
In describing the challenge of how to handle the high number of missed student days, Kuphal stated, “There’s obviously been a lot of discussions among school districts about the number of days. I think the minimum number I’ve heard in southeast Minnesota is six. We’re at seven. I’ve heard as much as nine… We’re all in the same boat.” He added that if Mabel-Canton chooses to make up any more days with students, the options are to put them at the end of the year (but he said he’s not in favor of that), or add minutes onto each school day, but he said, “I’m not a big fan of that, because I’m not sure how much good instruction goes on… I don’t think it’s very valuable.” The only other option he mentioned was possibly having school on “Easter Monday.” No board action was taken at this time.
Business Manager Aimee Lake shared the 2018-2019 budget revision, summarizing, “It’s probably the easiest revised budget I’ve ever had to do.” She outlined the status regarding year-to-date revenues and expenses. The board approved the revision as submitted.
Superintendent Kuphal shared that February 18-22 is Minnesota School Board Recognition Week, and he gave recognition and certificates of appreciation to board members. He said, “It’s not much, for all the time and effort you put in.”
Superintendent Kuphal informed the board regarding Mabel-Canton’s efforts to develop a long-range strategic plan. He said the current plan is for a group of roughly 15 members to be formed, and that group will meet several times to hammer out a plan. The group is expected to include two or three board members. The strategic plan would then come to the full board for approval. Once meeting dates are known, board member participants will be sought.
On the topic of Mabel-Canton’s efforts to reach a student enrollment tuition reciprocity agreement with Decorah Schools, Kuphal said he received the signed agreement from Decorah, for a five-year agreement. He said an open house event will be held soon for Iowa families wanting to know more about Mabel-Canton Schools. He also stressed that any interested families are encouraged to fill out a non-binding application before March 1, so they are not left out.
Superintendent Kuphal updated the board about plans to enhance the security of the entrances to the school. He shared a blueprint, but stressed that it was only a concept, not a final plan. The board was not asked to take action at this time. Depending on timing and cost of final plans, a special board meeting may be needed in the spring to decide upon this issue.
Due to schedule conflicts, the March and April board meetings were changed. The next regular board meeting will be Monday, March 18 at 6 p.m. in the Media Center. The April meeting was set for Monday, April 15. The public is welcome at all meetings except special closed meetings.