The Chatfield School Board launched a new year by electing board officers during its Monday, Jan. 22, meeting. Jerry Chase retained his role as board chairman, Lanny Isensee is vice chairman, Scott Backer is clerk and Katie Priebe, treasurer. Committee assignments remained the same as 2017’s for the duration of 2018.

Chatfield Superintendent Ed Harris had quite a few items to share with the board, beginning with the need to replace a 10-passenger van because the oldest van the district owns and operates to transport students is 12 years old and has exceeded the mileage acceptable by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT). The new van will be purchased through a lease-to-own program. Harris informed the board that the next-oldest van in the district’s fleet is nearly 10 years old.

He went on to speak about construction progress at the high school. “With construction, we’re waiting on the STEM wing, and we were ahead of schedule by a bit, but the cold snap halted things a bit,” Harris stated. “Right now, we’re staying ahead of schedule and maybe can stay ahead. The first week of March will be busy here, as we will move the foodservice, and in April, we will see a start on this room (media center).”

The school’s website will also be under construction, according to the superintendent, who related that the new site will have features that better serve the community and students.

“The core functions…it will be built from a parent and community news perspective, instead of just an internal perspective. We’re starting from scratch, so it will have a completely different look. We plan to beta-test it in the spring,” he added.

Principals’ reports

Chatfield Elementary Principal Craig Ihrke reported that the students are finishing their NWEA testing, though the weather had disrupted the schedule somewhat.

“We’re gearing up for the MCAs soon. Also, Sara Duxbury and the third grade teachers got some STEM science activities materials through grants, and thanks to the teachers and staff for their efforts and work they’ve put into Gopher Time lessons,” Ihrke added.

He also noted that Paraprofessional Week is coming up and that he wished to extend his appreciation to the district’s paraprofessionals and custodians for their dedication to the students’ well-being.

“We’re fortunate to have all these individuals and recognize them for the work they do,” Ihrke said.

Lastly, he commented on the building cabin fever in the elementary classrooms. “The kids were finally able to get outside for recess,” he concluded. “The walkathon money we got last school year was used to buy snow-building activities.”

High School Principal Randy Paulson outlined that the district’s juniors have typically taken the ACT, or American College Testing Program, test each year since 1974, and he pointed out Chatfield is one of the school districts that requires students to take the test.

He highlighted participation and the group results of the testing since it was begun, observing that while students may not choose to enter college immediately after graduation, the ACT test scores can be used up to six years after graduation to show how a student fared in terms of college readiness as a junior.

Coach resigns

Conversation focused for a while on the resignation of varsity volleyball coach Ruth Ann Lund, as there were rumors that a faction of volleyball participants had chosen to ask for Lund’s replacement.

However, the board countered those rumors, with Chase citing that the work of finding dedicated coaches in a small town is difficult because of the availability of such people — individuals who are already likely very busy with other parts of their lives.

He also stated, without a Chatfield football coach, about whom there had been some complaints, the high school football team would not have gone on to earn three state championships.

Chase remarked that he felt the board should support the district’s coaches as best it can.

Board member Amy Jeffers pointed out she had not heard any such rumors and had spoken with Lund about the resignation, finding that Lund essentially had too many other responsibilities and felt that it would be best to hand off coaching to someone who could give more to the team at this point in time.

Chase questioned whether the board should delay voting on accepting Lund’s resignation and posting the position, but Harris wanted to know if leaving a month’s time would accomplish anything.

The board accepted Lund’s resignation, reiterating that they appreciated her service to the community’s volleyball players and underscoring their support for coaches working for the district.

CCTV coordinator

Chase invited new Chatfield Community Television (CCTV) coordinator Melissa Burnett to step in front of the CCTV camera to introduce herself and show viewers that she was attending the January school board meeting.

The board approved the annual payment of $15,000 for CCTV to record school activities and sporting events, after which Chase commented, “We’re extremely happy to have the CCTV position covered.”

Upcoming calendar

The next regular school board meeting is slated for Feb. 26 in the high school media center.

Kindergarten through 12th grade conferences will be held Feb. 20 and 22, and there is no school on Feb. 23 in observance of the Presidents’ Day holiday.