During the Mabel-Canton School Board meeting on January 19, the board discussed the plans for which learning model to use, based on current and expected COVID-19 trends. Superintendent Kuphal stated, “We’re back in hybrid, as of yesterday (January 18). Colton (student representative Colton Heintz-Kuderer) alluded that he thought things were going fairly well.” Kuphal said the consensus among staff was also that the current learning model was going well. He added, “So unless the board either wants additional discussion or to change the model, the plan right now would be to continue as long as we possibly can in the hybrid model without going to distance learning.”
Jodie Zesbaugh, representing the financial firm of Ehlers Inc., presented the board with information on the proposed bond sale for the upcoming facility upgrade project. She summarized the total bond would be $6,610,000, and she said that represents a savings of roughly $1.1 million. After discussion, the board unanimously voted to approve the bond sale as presented.
Kuphal shared information that three staff members were selected to receive COVID-19 vaccination, with the initial doses beginning as soon as January 21. He said due to privacy laws, he is not at liberty to share which staff members will receive that vaccination.
The board discussed a recommendation from the Minnesota State High School League, referred to as the “Return to Play” protocol. Kuphal explained that he was not recommending the board to take any immediate action, but he explained, “I guess the interpretation that I have is, if you do it, as a school district, you are saying to somebody who’s had COVID, before you can continue to participate, you must have medical clearance. The downside to that is… they may not know if they have COVID… The upside to doing it is they’re reducing the liability, from a district perspective.”
Kuphal went on, “Right now, if I had to… recommend a decision to you as the board, it would be to put out some form of ‘we recommend that you seek medical clearance, but not require.’” The board did not take formal action at this time.
Consideration was given to the school’s 2007 Chevy Uplander minivan. Kuphal stated, “We cannot use it for students; we can only use it for staff.” He said over the past two years, it has only been driven about 1,900 miles, and he suggests it could be sold. The board voted to open it up for sealed bids.
Kuphal explained a situation in which several kindergarten students open-enrolled from the Decorah school district into Mabel-Canton, but the families did not apply for state aid. Kuphal’s report stated, “Decorah did not put four kindergartners in for state aid, and as a result, we currently will not receive state aid from either state. I am gathering additional information on this, as Decorah feels this is our mistake and our issue.” The board discussed that Mabel-Canton would have no way of knowing such students that may end up open-enrolling, so the district’s hands are tied in trying to help these families meet the sign-up deadlines. Kuphal said the impact of such situations is about $6,500 per applicable student. No formal action was taken.
The board briefly discussed plans for selecting a superintendent for the 2021/2022 school year. Superintendent Kuphal shared that he asks the board to begin these considerations each January, and he added that with the current bond project going on, “I would like to see this project further along.” The consensus among the board was to have Kuphal stay, but no formal action was taken at this time.
The board made nominations, and voted, on board positions for the year. Cristal Adkins will continue as board chair, with Chris Miller as vice chair. Diane Wilder will serve as treasurer, and Jason Marquardt will be clerk.
The board’s regular meeting in January will be February 16 at 6 p.m. The public is welcome at these meetings, although masks are expected, and social distancing will be observed.