Kingsland School Board held their monthly “work session” on July 7. Members participating included Jackie Horsman, Kyle Rader, Natasha Howard, Maranda Emig, Pamela Freet, and Superintendent James Hecimovich. Business Manager Amber Herbrand participated via Zoom technology. Gwen Howard was absent.
The meeting included first readings of the proposed new Student Handbook and Staff Handbook. Superintendent Hecimovich highlighted several proposed changes related to academic eligibility requirements for students participating in extracurricular activities.
Part of the proposed new wording states, “Weekly Academic Tracking: Coaches/advisors will review student grades weekly. During Ramp Up to Readiness advisory periods on Wednesdays, students will track their academic progress and fill out a sheet for their advisors… Student athletes will email a picture of the completed sheet to his/her coach… A failing grade that does not change before ineligibility is reported, will result in a student athlete becoming ineligible.”
Hecimovich said the wording came from the committee that has been working on updating the handbooks, and he added, “I like what they said about semester. I like the statement here, ‘Failing a semester is serious. Many chances to improve grades would have been given before a student fails a class,’ so there are going to be probably more severe consequences for a failure at a semester level.” The board discussed the proposed new wording, but no formal action was taken at this time.
Hecimovich also brought up the issue that membership in the Minnesota State High School League is becoming more expensive, and he asked the board to be thinking of ways to cover that added cost. He said one option would be to increase the participation fees paid by families of the students in athletics. Another option could be to increase attendance fees, but that would have to be approved by the athletic conference. A third option is to make cuts to the extracurricular budgets. Jackie Horsman pointed out that “It could be a little of this, and a little of that.” Hecimovich said he doesn’t like the idea of dipping into the General Fund to help cover athletic costs because, “Quite honestly, we’re here to educate. And athletics is part of education, but it’s not the primary mission of the school district.”
Horsman agreed, stating, “Please remember our General Fund is just that. It’s general, it should be assisting all students, not select students. So, activities and sports are a very important part of education, but they’re not everybody’s education… So, in my opinion, I don’t think that activities should ever be draining on General Funds.”
Becky Bicknese’s written report on Community Education included a chart that showed how severely the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the registration numbers in Adult & Youth Enrichment. Her chart showed 723 total registrations in 2012-2013, which increased to a high of 2579 in 2017-2018. In 2020-2021, there were a total of 436 registrations. With the pandemic waning, registration numbers are expected to rise again.
Activities & Athletics Director Mark Fitzpatrick’s written report included, “Schedules are coming together nicely. Hope to have them finalized soon… We still do not have any applicants for the open coaching job for football of volleyball.”
Hecimovich commented on the two recent tragic deaths that impacted Kingsland. His report stated, “The loss of Eric Howard shook the district and community greatly. Eric’s wife, Chris, teaches for the district and has students attending our school. The other loss was a student who graduated in 2021, Justin Johnson. He has a sister attending our high school. All losses are tragic. Our thoughts and prayers go out to both families.”
Regarding Kingsland’s plan for “E-learning” for the 2021-2022 school year, Hecimovich informed the board, “The legislature was discussing replacing E-learning days with just distance learning with no limit on days, but apparently the idea did not make it through.” He recommended the board approve Kingsland’s E-learning plan at the next board meeting.
The Kingsland Board’s next meeting will be Monday, July 19 at 6 p.m.