At the March 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. Athletic Director Dan Schindler was present along with Student Senate members Tristen O’Connor and Hunter Bernau.
Deb Marcotte, Executive Director of HVED (Hiawatha Valley Education District), gave the board an overview of what HVED does for the school district and the staff that supports it. Basically HVED has highly specialized staff to meet the needs of students in schools with low incidence special education needs. They also have autism and behavioral programs offered in specific sites. Funding for HVED comes from federal, state and local dollars.
Student senate members Hunter Bernau and Tristen O’Connor informed the board that Snow Week is March 13-18 with dress up days all week and the Snowball Dance will be on Saturday, March 18. Fun activities throughout the week are also planned.
Dan Schindler, activities director, discussed the success of the winter activities and that in one week many of the spring sports will begin. A new trophy case has been added and this summer they will put all trophies in chronological order. Lack of officials has prompted some games to be rescheduled and schools are looking at creative ways to lessen this issue. Gym space is at a premium with three practice sessions in the evening during the winter sports season, or even morning practices; which can make long days for these athletes. Youth programs are starting at an earlier age, so the demand for gym space is high.
High school principal Eric Nelson explained to the board that AI (Artificial Intelligence) is creating new challenges for schools and possibly threatening academic integrity. AI applications can write extensive papers and responses while asking for only limited information from a student. The app generates an essay that the student can simply cut and paste or modify to meet their needs. While this is a new development for schools, Nelson feels that the policies in place and those they will be approving later will suffice for now. This is a continuing learning process with how to deal with these new technology innovations.
Shane McBroom, elementary principal, stated that curriculum work has been aligned with the new math standards and thanked Mrs. Armstrong on her work with this. Enrollment projections for next year are up from previous years with kindergarten enrollment expected to increase after the registration process.
Superintendent Harris relayed that a used truck has been purchased and the old truck will be posted for sale. Bernard Bus received a grant that provided a four camera system for each bus (stop arm/internal/audio). Harris said the demo provided by Mike Bernard was very impressive and should enhance the safety of students riding buses. Stop arm cameras can record cars coming from both directions and can be used to write violation citations.
Under the consent agenda, the following items were approved:
• Overnight field trips for Art Club, fifth grade Eagle Bluff, eighth grade Washington, D.C., and both the 2023 and 2024 senior class trips.
• 2023 fall varsity coaches: football, Jeff Johnson and cross country, Niki DeBuhr.
• Resignations: Kaylyn Funk, ninth grade volleyball; Luke Taylor, elementary para; Brian Baum, varsity girls basketball coach; Kayle Bernau, Claire Springer, Kiley Baldner, Elizabeth Schieffelbein, Claudia Meier and Kendra Erickson from Valleyland.
• Jobs postings for: ninth grade volleyball coach and varsity girls basketball.
• New hires: Sarah Pedelty, EC screening aide; Ruth Mikos, elementary art teacher and Emil Tutland, elementary SPED teacher.
• Snowball Dance DJ, Tony Lee and Dance Team Fundraiser, Easter Egg Hunt.
Under actions items, the 2023 Achievement and Integration Budget was tabled because some school districts were not ready for the report. The 2023 March revision of the budget projects a $67,000 general fund deficit as opposed to December’s projection of $162,000. State aid and fewer expenditures made this possible. Harris said that it is possible that there will be additional SPED revenue beyond what is accounted for in the budget revision, which could, in reality balance the FY 23 budget.
The meeting was adjourned. The next meeting will be on April 12, at 7 p.m. in the high school Forum room.