Many R-P students joined the regular school board meeting April 17, as they were recognized for recent and upcoming state competitions. The Knowledge Bowl team had just returned from Brainerd where they placed 10th out of 15 teams. When asked what was the most memorable part of the competition, one of the members replied that last year they had missed going to state by one point. He’d vowed they were not going to do that again — the team was successful this year in winning that trip to state competition.
On Sunday, 34 FFA members will make the trip to their state competition on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The following teams will be participating: General Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Horse, Soils, Fish & Wildlife, and Conduct of a Meeting.
Narcan on hand
Superintendent Ben Bernard shared that the school had decided to be proactive regarding possible drug overdoses. Dr. Bernard pointed out that 10 states currently have requirements for policies on dealing with drug overdose, and it appears Minnesota will soon also require it. After learning of a situation at Century High School in which Narcan was administered and saved a student, Bernard asked school nurse Stephanie Evenson to check into its availability. Dr. Bernard assured the board this is a preventative measure, commenting that he didn’t think the school has a big problem but wanted to protect students from accidental overdoses.
According to Nurse Evenson, fentanyl can easily be accidentally used by students; the highly potent drug could be on a dollar bill or in candy-looking tablets. Evenson was able to obtain Narcan, an opioid reversal medication, at no expense from the local Sterling pharmacy. She assured the board that with the Good Samaritan law in place, anyone who administers Narcan will not be subject to any legal action.
The school’s supply of Narcan is stored in a locked cabinet with the EpiPens. Evenson has laminated the instructions and posted them on the cabinet; she has trained other staff members to administer the Narcan as well. The drug will not harm a student who is actually in a diabetic coma or having a cardiac arrest. Evenson likened having Narcan available to having an AED or EpiPens. She said an ambulance would be called in any of the situations.
Health teachers Gary Wade and Nicole Schultz teach about drugs and drug overdose in their health classes. When Councilor Jeff Michel asked if students knew about the Narcan, Evenson replied that the school was trying to make sure the kids were aware of it.
Business Manager Toni Oian presented a brief budget update to the board using a four-column chart. The first column showed the current budget adopted last June which was designed to break even. The revised budget showed several changes and will be adopted next month. In the third column, Oian shared a proposed budget for the next school year; this budget will be discussed for approval in June. The fourth column showed an estimated budget for the 2024-2025 year.
According to Oian, currently $300,000 from ESSER funds have been covering some staff salaries. The school wants to keep the staff in future years as well. However, the ESSER funds may be used for purchasing vans and a school car next year. In the 2024-2025 school year the ESSER funding will no longer be available. Ten more kindergartners have registered at R-P, for a total of 51 kindergarteners next year; this will increase funding for the school.
Oian commented that “overall they (the school) were kind of happy.” She shared that the estimated unassigned fund percentage ranged between 11.5% and 10.2%.
Dr. Bernard thanked Oian for her work. He pointed out that the school’s strategic plan was to have the unassigned fund percentage between 9 and 12%. Bernard informed the board that he plans to give them a five-minute budget snapshot at each meeting going forward to keep them updated on the budget.
In other business the board:
•Approved the candidates for 2023 graduation;
•Hired new staff for next year including a third kindergarten teacher, Carissa George;
•Heard that two boring lines (one for sewer and one for water) as well as needed pumps and grinder would be installed soon to connect to the city lines at the Ruth Peterson home; the concession stand construction is moving forward;
•Approved a request for proposals for beef; the recently acquired grant will pay for around $10,000 worth of meat; the purchased meat will need to be delivered in installments since the school can’t store the entire amount at once; local producers are encouraged to submit bids.
The next R-P school board meeting will be May 15 at 6 p.m. in the forum room. The public is welcome to attend.