Due to COVID-19, the regular June 15, 2020, Spring Grove Public Schools board meeting was held in compliance with Minnesota’s requirements for remote board meetings at 7 p.m. remotely through Google Meet.
Board members Aaron Solum, Stephanie Jaster, Rhan Flatin, Kelly Rohland, Jenny Stender, and Christian Myrah were all in attendance.
Chairman Solum called for a motion to approve the consent agenda that included the June 15 agenda, minutes from the May 18, 2020, regular board meeting, as well as the Treasurer’s Report and Bills and the contract of Kaitlin Bratland, Special Education and Taylor Elton, Science. Approved.
Before Nancy Gulbranson gave her final report as Spring Grove Public School Principal, Board chairman Aaron Solum thanked Gulbranson for her 24 years of service to the Spring Grove Public School District. Solum specifically thanked the principal for her dedication to the children of Spring Grove.
The focus of the summer school program, Lion’s Academy, for both elementary and high school students is on reading and math. The program will adhere to COVID-19 guidelines; students will be taught in small groups of nine students and one teacher.
After spending time with the new Principal, Luke Kjelland, Gulbranson is ready to turn the keys over to Mr. Kjelland. She is confident that what she has created will continue under Kjelland’s tenure.
AP exams looked very different this year. Normally students sign into a two to four hour test located onsite, whereas this year’s students completed a 45-minute online test conducted at each child’s home.
The school implemented three different activities this spring to ensure students got all their belongings to take home. In March, 230 packets went out, and in May, one activity was held for lower elementary students. The final one collection and push-out activity sent home stuff from the students’ lockers and locker rooms. Gulbranson praised her administrative staff for the successful two day curbside collection, which worked like clockwork. The students stopped at various stations to pick up their belongings. The last station celebrated a successful school year.
Udstuen started her report by commending the staff for their teamwork during COVID-19 to ensure a successful end to the school year. She mentioned that “seeing the smiles on the seniors as they went by in the parade was what I needed.” Udstuen went on to confirm that the August 7 graduation date and the outdoor ceremony are good to go.
There will be no open gym this summer, but the gym can be open to organized team sports. The school created the required COVID-19 plan regarding organized team sports.
Teachers and staff will aggressively start looking at what fall will look on July 1; right now, they are catching their breath. The State is looking at three options. They will tell the school on July 1 which option the school will start with on September 8. Udstuen believes that the three options will be used throughout the school year. The school will be working on a communication plan for the community and parents, including a regularly scheduled parent luncheon. The goal of the luncheon will be to update parents and get their feedback. The superintendent plans on sending parents a survey to see what they are thinking about. Survey results will shape the district’s fall plans. The health of the students being number one and the need to be with the students are driving the school’s plans. It will be important for the school to look at grades K and seven as these are entry points, and the school will take an in-depth look at the seniors.
The board was presented with the new virtual board meeting guidelines from MSBA. The board can meet face-to-face as long as the number of participants does not exceed 10. The school will still need to allow remote access to the public and board members and staff. Udstuen recommends continuing to hold remote meetings with the board, administration, and business manager meeting together.
The board watched the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) Why We Play training video.
School superintendents reached out to the Houston County collaborative to see how the schools should address the George Floyd situation with students. Udstuen stated that the schools would have a plan in place when school starts this fall.
Solum mentioned that Udstuen presented at the June Hiawatha Valley Education District (HVED). Udstuen informed the board, “that HVED would like to contract some of our time because of our success with the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS).” Spring Grove Schools saw MCA reading scores go up, and the school’s special education population decrease. Udstuen explained, “by using the MTSS process with fidelity, we have had fewer referrals to special education.”
Tanya Elton, Business Manager, updated the board on changes to the 2020-2021 budget. The school did not receive the Bush Grant this year or the MTSS Grant from MDE, which explains the reduction in revenue. Elton mentioned that there is $32,000 coming in from COVID-19 for technology. Elton reminded the board that they approved a 3% increase in salaries, resulting in a higher deficit, which was expected before the school went into contract negotiation with the union. The staff has been working on cutting down expenses. Board members asked about the possibility of receiving the Bush grant. Udstuen assured the board that the school would apply for the Bush Grant. The $5.2 million proposed budget was approved.
Gulbranson presented the proposed list of 2020-21 fundraisers to support the school’s extracurricular activities. She mentioned the list was developed based on previous years fundraisers and that there could be changes after July 31. The fundraisers were approved.
The board approved Superintendent Udstuen’s contract for three years with a 3% salary increase in year one and a 2% increase in years two and three.
The Math Curriculum Adoption Committee, represented by Gina Meinertz, explained that the group went through an extensive process. After candid discussions regarding their top three selections, the committee recommended the district adopt the Bridges Math Curriculum for grades K–5. The Bridges Math curriculum was pproved.
Filing for upcoming school board elections begins July 28, 2020, and closes August 11, 2020, at 5 p.m. Udstuen mentioned, “that some board members are up for re-election and the school would love to have you stay with the board, and the school would love to have new people with us as well.” Udstuen recommended that the board introduce a resolution relating to the election of school board members and calling for the school district general election. This was approved.
Thank you Nancy Gulbranson
“Tonight is Nancy’s final school board meeting as Principal. If you know Nancy, you’ve probably heard her say at some point, “I have the best job on the planet.” What makes this comment remarkable is that as a principal, she has the hardest job in a school system. What makes it even more remarkable is that I can’t say in the 15 years I’ve worked with her that I’ve ever seen Nancy visibly frustrated or having a bad day. She’s had hard days, sure, but a hard day is different from a bad day. Nancy has always had an unwavering commitment to advocate for all kids, especially the ones who provide a little more challenge than others.
Nancy has been a steady force in this organization, and it has been my privilege to work with her. I will miss my daily dose of her humor and her passion for seeing the best in every student and every situation. On behalf of the Spring Grove School District and the legacy you leave here… thank you,” shared Udstuen.
The regular monthly Spring Grove Public School Board meeting is scheduled for July 20, 2020, at 7 p.m. The next board meeting will be in person for the school board, administration, and business manager (10 people total). The school will continue to offer their 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@example.com.