At the September 14 school board meeting, board members Josh Thompson, Jill Harstad, Lanny Isensee, and Tom Keefe were present as well as Superintendent Ed Harris, Lorri Lowery, administrative assistant; and principals Shane McBroom and Eric Nelson. Also present were Trista O’Connor, business manager; Jim Sawyer, Taher Food Service Director and Parker Bush, Student Senate representative. Board members Katie Priebe and Matt McMahon were not present.
Board member Thompson updated the board on the Safety Committee held before the regular meeting that was attended by both the Fillmore and Olmsted County sheriff department members, members of the Chatfield Fire Department and Chatfield Ambulance and the Chatfield administration. Safety plans were shared and there will be continuing discussions with these entities.
Student Senate representative Parker Bush updated the board on what the upcoming Homecoming week will look like. Homecoming will be October 3-8 with dress-up days for each day of the week, a Friday pep fest and the dance will be on Saturday.
Jim Sawyer, the new food service director, introduced himself to the board. He talked about the changes that are being made in the cafeteria. A salad bar has been added and he is hoping to have more chef driven options for the students. He wants to show them there are other options than chicken nuggets and Burger King. He is engaging students to find out what they are interested in eating and will add chef demonstrations in the future. Future plans for an after school nutrition meal prep class may be added later. His main goal is to get kids excited about the food they are eating.
Principal Eric Nelson reported the start of school went very smoothly and the new schedule model of five, 66-minute classes allows for adequate time for students to engage in several activities within a period without being overly long. Several students have commented that having only five classes made the day seem shorter despite the fact that the day is 10 minutes longer. School spirit continues to be strong and this year a Gopher mascot will be introduced. The application and selection process for students interested in becoming the mascot are just beginning. The Gopher mascot will be a welcome addition to events such as pep fests, send-offs, Chatfield Elementary programs, orientations, and Western Days.
Shane McBroom, elementary principal, stated the adjusted conference days held the Thursday before Labor Day Weekend and the Tuesday after, allowed teachers to collect and review all the data to better prepare for the first day of school on Thursday. The new preschool parking lot was definitely helpful in getting the young families to the building in a safer manner. Looking at enrollment for this school year, the elementary saw an increase of 30 students in kindergarten through 6th grade.
Superintendent Harris noted that the site project at the high school is functionally complete and on budget. There is still work being done on the installation of the drainage system near the tennis courts and trees will be planted this fall. The unmodified clean opinion audit information that was presented earlier in the meeting by Jason Boynton of Smith, Schafer and Associates will be forwarded to the district’s financial management consultant so projection models can be updated. The FY22 budget was nearly balanced with an ending unreserved fund balance of 2.7 million. As was projected in the FY22 model and discussed at previous meetings, Harris expects the FY23 model (and beyond) to project deficit increased spending. This coming spring will be telling in terms of the multi-year budget plan. Specifically, seeing if the positive enrollment trend holds and what happens in the state legislature as it is a funding year with a large state surplus. The last couple of years of fund balance growth can be primarily attributable to cost savings due to COVID and additional funding due to COVID. These positive budgetary influences were momentary. In other words, the general budget was artificially buoyed the last couple of years. Hence, the impending deficit spending cycle.
Under the consent agenda the following new hires were approved: Ahn Vu, high school SPED paraprofessional; Izabell Tollefson, elementary SPED paraprofessional; Luke Taylor, Valleyland; Crystal Jorgenson, elementary SPED paraprofessional; Todd Johnson, 0.815FTE high school business education; Samantha Geving, Valleyland teacher; Gretchen Forbes, elementary long-term sub; Claire Springer, Valleyland aide; Lindsay Lea/ECSE paraprofessional; Broden Hobbs, SPED paraprofessional; Jim Sawyer, concessions advisor; Kathy Gudmundson, elementary office staff sub; Izabell Tollefson, Valleyland; Ryan Kivimagi, 9th grade girls basketball; Justin Viss, technology coordinator; Kim Debard, literary assistant; Sue Danielson, 2.5 Community Education assistant and Ashley Kester, elementary social worker. The resignation of Nate Evans as technology coordinator was accepted.
Under action items, the snow removal quote from Hammell Equipment was accepted and the preliminary Certified Projected Levy was set at 7.06%. About 5% of this number can be attributed to the high school site improvements. The board approved $6,175 for the Mill Creek Park Storage building with the City of Chatfield, Chatfield Fire Department and the Chatfield Youth Baseball Association each contributing to the remainder of the cost of approximately $15,000.
The meeting was adjourned. The next board meeting will be on October 12, 2022, in the high school Forum room at 7 p.m.