By Charlene Corson Selbee
The Spring Grove School Board met on Monday night, November 16, 2020, in the media center while adhering to the governor’s guidelines for capacity (maximum 10 people). Google Meet was available for those attendees that wanted to attend remotely.
Board members in attendance were President Aaron Solum, Stephanie Jaster, Christian Myrah, Kelly Rohland, Jenny Stender, and Rhan Flatin.
The board unanimously approved the consent agenda, including the November 16 meeting agenda, minutes from the October 19 regular board meeting and the November 12 special school board meeting to canvas the election, and the Treasurer’s Report/Approval of Bills.
In his monthly report, Principal Luke Kjelland reminded the board that the parent-teachers’ conferences were scheduled for this week on November 17 and 19. He emphasized they will look different this year. First, due to the pandemic, conferences are going virtual, including elementary class conferences. Virtual may mean Zoom, telephone calls, or some other type of contact. Because of scheduling conflicts and because of MSHSL starting sports, teachers contracted time will be spread throughout the week and not just on Tuesday and Thursday. Teachers/teams target the most needed students at the 7-12 grade levels and schedule group conferences.
Strength inventories are conducted as part of the school’s wellness initiative. Kjelland explained, “It is important to remember, especially at grading/assessment times, every student has things that they are good at, and the school needs to celebrate those things.”
Superintendent Rachel Udstuen reminded the board of the school’s 2020-21 goals. The goals guide planning.
•Keep students and staff physically safe.
•Care for the social-emotional needs of students and staff.
•Keep learning the priority to create a strong learning environment no matter the delivery model.
•Reduce inequities by meeting the learning needs of students.
•Engage in complex work that will require the collective efforts of many.
The number of Spring Grove students has decreased by 12 students since the February 2020 count. The November 2020 student count shows 355 students, including 48 virtual students.
The Superintendent updated the board on the school’s plan to deal with the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the county, including why the administration recommends changing the Elementary Learning Model to the hybrid model and what that means for students. Students will notice that teachers will be stricter about maintaining social distancing. Manipulatives will not be shared and will be cleaned more often.
If the time comes for the school to switch to distant learning, the decision will be made based on data collected according to the following three criteria. Families can change to distant learning at any time.
1.School staffing: Are we able to provide coverage for the staff who need to stay home due to quarantining/positive cases?
2.Positive cases in the school building: How many positive cases do we have in our school building?
3.Positive cases in the school community: Do we have a high increase in positive cases in our community?
“There are not a lot of cases in our community, allowing us to be in school.” She continued, “The teachers want the kids in the class every day. They do not want them to be at home on Wednesday, preparing for distant learning, because they are practicing in the classroom. The spread is not coming from the school. It is coming from gatherings at home and in the community. If we need to change, it will happen quickly. The teachers want to keep the kids in school as long as possible.”
The board started laughing as they remember past discussions about e-learning day. At that time, they could not envision how e-learning could work. The school is allowed for five snow days. During conversations with the union rep, the recommendation is that the first three days will be snow days, and the third and fourth days will be e-learning. The approximate 50 Tier 1 kids will continue coming to school unless the roads are impassable, and then they will stay at home to learn.
Good news! The USDA has extended free meals for the remainder of the school year. Families still need to complete the free/reduced-priced lunch form as the form is tied to Compensatory Education funding. The school receives $96,000 in revenue from Compensatory Education.
The Spring Grove High School Band will be performing at the January 28 Minnesota School Boards Association virtual convention.
Katie Figueroa, cook, submitted her resignation effective mid-December. Udstuen recommended that the board accept her resignation and thanked Figueroa for her service.
The board approved the resolution allowing the school to submit the Minnesota State High School League Foundation Form A. The foundation provides the school with funds to assist students that need assistance paying activity fees.
The board approved the second reading of the MSBA model Policy Revisions.
The superintendent recommends changing the Elementary Learning Model to the hybrid learning model. Approved.
The next regular meeting of the Spring Grove Public School Board of Directors is scheduled for December 21, 2020, at 7 p.m. The school board, administration, and business manager will meet in person (10 max). The school will continue to offer the board meetings on Google Meet for anyone else who would like to attend. For assistance monitoring the meeting, contact the district office at (507) 498-3221 or email email@example.com.