R-P Chairman Chris Grindland introduced a discussion on school safety at the Rushford-Peterson School Board meeting on June 22. Referring to the recent tragic school shootings, Grindland felt it was time to start a discussion of how to improve school safety.
Grindland distributed copies of a state statute as he suggested the option of allowing teachers with a concealed carry permit to carry weapons at school. Grindland interpreted the statute to allow the school to give written permission to staff to carry weapons. He felt the state should have a training course for staff if the state does indeed allow staff to carry concealed weapons.
Board member Carl Schollmeier opined that the response time saved in a crisis could make a real difference in fatalities in a shooting.
Superintendent Jon Thompson informed the board that the school is currently in the process of reviewing its crisis plan. It was pointed out that the move to the new building had greatly increased the security of the building.
Ben Bernard, who will be onboard as superintendent as of July 1, told the board that he will be meeting with the county sheriff in July to discuss school shootings and local response. He also plans to share the current R-P plan with the board at their next meeting as well as other plans for discussion.
Board member Ken Sawle shared his opinion that it was a “terrible idea.” He felt school was no place for guns.
The consensus of the board was that the identity of any staff carrying concealed weapons would obviously need to be carefully guarded to prevent them becoming a target in a shooting.
Toni Oian, R-P’s business manager walked the board through the revised 2021-2022 budget. Oian pointed out that Community Education ended the year at -$46,947, but that $30,000 of that would be transferred from the general fund to help cover the expense of the preschool program. This has been done in the past; the program is an important part of educating students.
The food service program ended the year with a positive $62,821 balance. Last year, all students were eligible for free lunches; as a result, there was higher student participation. The cushion will be helpful next year; it’s uncertain what the funding will be next year for food service.
The unrestricted fund balance this year was $647,250. (Last year it was $644,000.) Thompson explained that the school had taken a hit during COVID when a number of students opted to attend an online school or other schools. He lauded the board, “You did a good job as a board getting us through these tough years!” He went on to mention the possibility of reducing staff at the middle/high school level in the future as smaller classes enter that level.
The board adopted the revised 2021-2022 budget as well as the 2022-2023 new budget. Thompson noted that the general fund revenues will not be going up a lot, nor will the expenses. The general fund balance is projected to decrease by an estimated $64,161, a small percentage of the $8,025,672 revenues. Food service is anticipated to show a loss of $38,255 next year.
In other business the board:
•Heard that no teachers took advantage of the early retirement incentive;
•Approved renewal of MRE (a rural education committee) and MSBA (Minnesota School Board Association) memberships;
•Received the Q-Comp annual report which told of the emphasis on making connections with students during PLCs;
•Approved the property, liability, cyber, and workers’ compensation insurance proposal from Vaaler Insurance;
•Set the dates beginning August 2 and ending August 16 at 5 p.m. for filing candidacy for school board; positions held by Carl Schollmeier, Joyce Iverson, and Jeff Michel are up for election;
•Learned the school website has been worked on with many improvements; it is a work in progress with more updates coming;
•Heard that stone on the front of the building had been replaced with a sealant under the stones (at an expense of $5,000).
The next meeting of the R-P school board will be July 18 at 6 p.m. in the high school forum room. The public is welcome to attend.