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Chatfield continues to prepare for opening of new school

Fri, Aug 21st, 2009
Posted in Education

The Chatfield school board met August 17 to deal with last-minute issues before the school year begins. This includes the approval of various policies-including school attendance, school standards, and district testing plans (all things that need to be re-evaluated yearly.) Also addressed were building and remodeling issues and updates of the school,

In the "District Patron time" portion of the meeting, Ben Halvorson-a Chatfield resident-spoke out against the school's plans to put a parking lot on Burr Oak St., which is near his home's driveway. The school has already removed the playground equipment (which school board member Matt McMahon later said was no longer safe enough for the children to play on), as well as reduced much of the area's green space. Halvorson believes the addition of the parking lot will take away the remaining area of the neighborhood children's play space, as well as creating a dangerous blind spot for drivers. The board responded that the city told them where to put the parking lot, and they would re-discuss it with representatives from the city in the near future.

Next, the board recognized two members of the school's FFA chapter-Tyler Steinbrink and Jordan Hanson--for their stellar achievements. The two members both placed among the ten national winners for the Ag. Entrepreneurship award. The prestigious honor includes $1000 for each winner, a $500 check per winner for the school (to go towards the funding of agriculture entrepreneurship programs), and a plaque presented at an award ceremony attended by over 50,000 people. Then each of the winners spoke in front of the board. Tyler Steinbrink is raising 124 grass fed cattle, taking over the duty from his parents. He buys them in February, and sells them in September. Jordan Hanson raises horses, and sold 50-60 this spring.

Superintendent Don Hainlen then discussed his earlier meeting with Senator Franken. He, along with other superintendents and a college professor from the area, met with the Senator to discuss the problems with the No Child Left Behind act. He said that the problems included one sub-group in the school bringing the entire school's marks down, and the issue that every state has its own set of standards, making comparisons among the states impossible.

Next on the agenda, the board approved the resignation of high school nurse Kim Westphal, as well as the posting for a new high school nurse. They also received updates on the building projects. The building and remodeling seems to be right on schedule, with board members especially concerned about issues of landscaping. However, a rep. from the building company assured the board the landscaping would be taken care of. It was also noted that there was a great turnout for the previous week's tours of the new school. Community members seem to be very excited and interested in the building.

Also discussed was the wear on the high school weight room's walls. There is a recently developed hole in the dividing wall due to roughness of students and wear of machines. The board discussed the various options-including putting a chaperone in place in the room, and removing the wall. The board decided to meet at a later date with people more directly involved in the weight room-including coaches and physical education teachers. Said Board member Tuohy, "We need to fix the walls. It's embarrassing."

The board then reviewed and unanimously approved the school's mandated policies, including ones addressing the issues of harassment an violence, mandated reporting of child neglect, physical sexual abuse, and maltreatment of vulnerable adults, bullying prohibition, and internet agreements. The board also unanimously approved the transportation contract from the 2009-10 and the 2010-11 school years, and discussed the idea of marking all bus stops with street signs.

The next Chatfield School Board meeting will be held September 21 at 7:00 p.m. It will be the first meeting of the 2009-10 school year.

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