Eleventh grader Christopher Oatman presented a 50-signature petition to the Rushford-Peterson School Board at their regular monthly meeting on October 18. The students asked that the school be opened to students at 7 a.m. once again rather than at 8 a.m. In a well-thought out address, Oatman enumerated the reasoning behind the petition. He listed the upcoming cold and inclement weather, scheduling problems for students who need to be dropped off by parents, and COVID distancing concerns created by the bunching of students by the doors as they wait for the doors to open. He shared that students felt opening the doors earlier would help them mentally prepare to focus on their education.
Superintendent Jon Thompson informed the board that the school had switched to the later opening time early during COVID. He assured Oatman and the board that the administrative team would address the request and reevaluate the door opening time.
Diversity Club presentation
High school principal Mr. Timm and Mr. Jacob Kramer, the advisor of the newly-formed Diversity Club, presented the club’s plan for the year. The club has chosen a mission to educate more people to be allies to diverse people.
Kramer said the five students of the club had decided upon a theme for each month; informational posters and powerpoints will be displayed in the high school/middle school portion of the building and an event will also be held each month.
In November, they will concentrate on LGBTQ awareness and the definition of each; a former graduate who is a lesbian will be present for a discussion. In December, the focus will be on world culture awareness; a potluck culture food fair will be held. January will focus on the impact of emotional trauma and abuse; a social worker or staff from HVED will speak at the planned event. February will focus on African American history in America; the event will be an on-going book study addressing how to be anti-racist. March will be a time to explore gender equality; a movie night on women in the workplace will be the event. April will address depression and suicide prevention with a social worker or HVED speaker again for the event. May will find the group addressing physical disability awareness.
Chairman Chris Grindland asked several questions, clarifying that the club is a voluntary club that meets after school hours that has already been approved by the school board.
Donation of funds
for concession stand
The R-P Booster Club recently generously donated $24,000 to construct a concession stand and bathrooms at the softball fields. At this time, construction has been held up since the city sewer system will require a costly lift in order to hook up the bathrooms. Superintendent Thompson informed the board the project would be brought back to them later after the situation is addressed. Grindland suggested that perhaps the city would be willing to cover half the expense since the school has done so on other occasions.
In public comment, some citizens shared concerns that the school system should not share personal information about students. They urged the school staff to remain professional in social media, and monitor any harassment or discrimination at all school functions.
A concern was shared that the vaccine status of a student should not be used as a metric in evaluating student health. A question about the ease of using the school website elicited assurance from Superintendent Thompson that the website was being worked on. Once again, a request was made that the meeting time of the board be changed to allow the public to attend the meetings more easily.
In other business the board discussed the possibility of changing the close contact label for vaccinated students or students who had had COVID in the last 90 days. This would have allowed those students to not be considered close contacts to a positive case and, as a result, not have to mask at school for the two weeks. Ultimately, the board decided to leave the precautions as is with the option to revisit the issue at a later date.
The board chose to once again have student ambassadors to the school board who will be able to share insight with the board.
Van drivers for the school will be seeing a $.50 an hour increase in their paychecks while pay for substitute teachers will increase to $125 a day.
Community Education responsibilities will be divided up with elementary principal Mrs. Shephard in charge of overseeing the pre-school and Laura VanGundy the director of school-age child care. VanGundy will also serve as the homeless and migrant liaison. All community education classes will continue with dance done through a private provider at the school.
The board closed with a reminder that the special school board election for a school board member will take place November 2 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Rushford City Hall and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at CRV City Hall.
The next regular meeting of the R-P School Board will be at 5:30 p.m., November 15. The public is welcome to attend.