At the February 8 school board meeting, board members Josh Thompson, Jill Harstad, David Sowinski, Mark Johnsrud, Katie Priebe and Tom Keefe were present as well as Superintendent Ed Harris, Principals Shane McBroom and Eric Nelson, and Trista O’Connor, business manager. Student Senate member Anna Bernau was also present.
During district patron time, Erica and Josh Goldsmith, parents of a volleyball player, spoke in support of the varsity volleyball coach, Molly Thomas and didn’t understand why her contract was not being renewed.
Student Senate representative Bernau stated that they are selling Valentine cookies from Carlie Mae’s Bakery this year for a fundraiser and that the Snowball Dance will be held March 18, with Snow Week dress-up days yet to be decided.
Elementary school principal Shane McBroom reported that the D.A.R.E program is in its third week with Chatfield Police Officer Kevin Landorf working with the students. Students were able to celebrate their character and behavior after filling the Golden Ticket Tower with acts of respect, responsibility and safety tickets. The character program included a rock, paper, scissor game and a free throw contest with the faculty. NWEA testing has been completed and MCA testing will begin shortly.
Eric Nelson, high school principal, stated that the high school is currently registering students for next year. Each of the grades will receive two days of support reviewing requirements, hearing about course opportunities and documenting their course selections. The students will also be completing their on-line registration in the next few weeks. On-line registration will permit much more efficient schedule building and increase the likelihood that students will be able to get the classes that they request. Both principals indicated that paras, custodians and tech personnel were celebrated last week. These support staff are to be commended on their day-to-day commitments to the school. The week of February 6 was School Counselor/Social Worker Week that was held to honor those staff who help students in all areas of their lives. Those staff are social worker Ashley Kester at the elementary, Shannon Love, high school social worker and Sara Duxbury, high school counselor. Also honored this week was Aletta Strande. Aletta received the St. Paul Athena Award that recognizes top women athletes.
Superintendent Harris thanked the board for their contributions to the community and noted that February is School Board Appreciation Month. On January 20, during a teacher workday, the administration in conjunction with local and county law enforcement put on an active shooter drill at the high school with all staff. Harris noted that this was successful and was a great practice and learning tool for administration, law enforcement, and staff. There will be another drill this fall at the elementary school.
Under the consent agenda the following items were approved:
• Posting for transportation quotes;
• Posting for lawn mowing quotes;
• New hires: Reggie Allen, Valleyland; Adam Hurley, part-time tech coordinator; Angela Severson, junior high softball coach and Jon Sutherland, junior high softball coach;
• Retirement: Cheryl Meyer, elementary media assistant;
• Job postings: elementary library aide, personal care attendant, high school and elementary art teacher;
• Resignations: Nathaniel Fox, Valleyland; Jasmine Hampton, high school custodian; Amy Gernes, elementary art teacher.
Under action items the 2023-2024 school calendar was approved. Input was solicited from staff and the current year calendar is the basis of the new draft. The school pickup needs replacing and the board gave the superintendent approval to buy a new or used truck around the $40,000 range.
The last item on the action items list was the consideration to non-renew the contract for the varsity volleyball coach, Molly Thomas. Originally the board was going to meet in a closed session but Thomas requested that the session be open. Activity Director Dan Schindler and Principal Eric Nelson presented the issues for recommending non-renewal. Schindler stated, “This is not about wins and losses or playing time,” it’s about other areas of concern with Coach Thomas. They then went on to list areas of deficiencies that they had addressed with her during several meetings in January and found that they were not able to reach a resolution with her. They recommended to the board that her position be non-renewed. In the discussion that ensued, each of the board members stated how difficult this decision would be and that they had listened to parents and players and took this matter and decision very seriously. The motion to non-renew the Consideration of Employee Contract pursuant to MN Statutes, section 13D.05, subdivision 2(b) was made by Tom Keefe and seconded by Katie Priebe. On a roll call vote, the board unanimously voted for non-renewal of Molly Thomas’s contract as varsity volleyball coach.
The meeting was adjourned. The next board meeting will be on March 8 at 7 p.m. in the Forum Room at the high school.