Kingsland School Board gets update on consortium

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Dan Armagost, of the Southern Minnesota Education Consortium (SMEC), gives a report on progress at the education consortium to which the district belongs.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Kingsland’s School Board welcomed Southern Minnesota Education Consortium’s (SMEC) Dan Armagost, who appeared at the Feb. 3 workshop with an update regarding the grand opening of SMEC’s new building outside of Rose Creek and with news of programming that takes place in that building for the seven SMEC member school districts. 

Armagost outlined that SMEC’s administration is pleased with the collaborative efforts that have made the new building possible, as the structure will serve all seven districts and provide educational opportunities for students who may otherwise not be able to obtain a public education that best suits their needs due to unique staffing and funding constraints in each of the districts. 

He and Kingsland Superintendent Jim Hecimovich explained to the board the various levels of programming that districts must provide to ensure students’ access to education, such as those who qualify for level three remediation and intervention – students who may attend an emotional and behavioral disorder (EBD) intervention program or need extra educational assistance beyond what’s available in standard classrooms – to those who are level four program-qualified and what Armagost described as “a danger to themselves and others.” 

Kingsland’s participation in some of SMEC’s educational services, hosting some of the lower level programs, is what helps pay for the district’s share of the new building.  Armagost expressed his appreciation to Kingsland’s board and administration for being part of SMEC’s initiatives. 

“It’s been awesome having the seven districts working together to get the building — that’s not an easy task — but we see you working together for the betterment of our students, which is really awesome,” he said.

Kingsland School Board Chairperson Jackie Horsman thanked Armagost for his report and for representing SMEC to the board. “Kingsland is very grateful to be part of SMEC and to have these things expedited,” she said. “Thank you for taking good care of our students.” 

Committee assignments had been reviewed and adjusted during the annual January organizational meeting, but at that time, no representative to SMEC or the Special Education Committee had been identified. Horsman volunteered to fill that role unless another board member decides to step in.

KABC connection

The board discussed having a liaison to the Kingsland Athletic Booster Club (KABC) to provide the board’s perspective on the projects that KABC would like to carry out for the district. Board member Tiffany Mundfrom and Horsman highlighted that KABC would appreciate having a liaison to the booster club, but they added that the duties would be different than those of the district’s activities and athletics director, Reid Olson, whom they commended for his hard work. 

“Reid does an excellent job, but there are some questions he can’t answer about funds or things like that,” Horsman said.

Mundfrom commented, “They really do have a lot of great initiatives, but murals are likely not in his wheelhouse.  They can start providing their board agenda and minutes to us.” 

Board member Natasha Howard was ultimately chosen as the KABC liaison because she is the board’s Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) liaison.         

District rebranding

The board discussed a Kingsland rebranding contest that had been prepared over a year ago to allow members of the community to design a new Kingsland logo and enter it into the contest. The winner would have his or her design accepted as the district’s official logo to replace the Kingsland shield that Hecimovich stated he feels is outdated because it includes “Spring Valley and Wykoff,” but not the unincorporated hamlets and villages from where Kingsland’s students also hail, leaving it less than inclusive. 

Board member Noella Lund and Horsman agreed with the superintendent that the district, having just refreshed its building through a long-term facilities maintenance (LTFM) and health and safety project and having passed an operating referendum to update its programming, would do well to choose this time as the moment to rebrand itself under one logo instead of the numerous random logos that have evolved to represent the district over the past 26 years. 

Hecimovich also stated that the district needs to bring its strategic plan up to date, as having a vision, mission and set goals will help guide this and future boards, administrations and staff members in providing education to students. 

During some debate as to when the district would begin its new strategic planning, Horsman said, “I think it would be nice to have the teachers start the new school year with a new vision and goals.”          

EMT status

Hecimovich spoke about the district’s use of the knowledge possessed by Spring Valley emergency medical technician (EMT) Becky Bicknese, who is the district’s community education coordinator and who often responds to requests to triage injured or sick persons within the school building.  The matter arose during the January workshop because there was some concern on Bicknese’s and Hecimovich’s parts that her licensure as an EMT could be jeopardized if she were to continue in such a capacity. 

Hecimovich had contacted the state emergency regulatory board, but he cited that he was unable to obtain enough information from that entity because the board is not equipped to give legal advice.  He told the board members that he would consult the district’s attorney to find out what parameters are necessary for the district to continue calling for Bicknese’s opinion in medical situations, but that if it were to come to the difference between Bicknese losing EMT status and the district having to use principals’ and staff assessment of injury or illness, that is how the district would proceed.      

Business updates

Business manager Amber Uhlenhake Herbrand appeared before the board with revised budget information, relating that the district’s enrollment has changed continuously since the beginning of the school year.  She remarked that “increased student counts (lead) to a potential net increase” in funding. 

Hecimovich observed that there has been “high mobility” this school year and that the district had just gained two new students. 

Staff negotiations have also been underway with the Kingsland Education Association (KEA). 

The district will soon be able to proceed with its security camera project through one-time Safe Schools funding.

Other reports

Kingsland Community Education news involved Bicknese working to engage people in enrichment classes and that the district has once again received preschool Pathway monies to provide scholarships for families to send their children to preschool. 

Grounds and maintenance news encompassed what to do to stop the football scoreboard outside the elementary school conference room, where the board was meeting, from sounding every 15 minutes, as the board acknowledged the malfunction that was likely causing headaches for the school’s neighbors. 

Consent agenda items coming up for consideration included staffing and personnel updates – hires on the February list include former kindergarten teacher Denise Erichsen as a long-term special education substitute to fulfill the time vacated by Lindsay Montesano, who’s on maternity leave, and Hailey Nolta as a student paraprofessional.  No resignations were listed. 

The February Kingsland School Board meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 6:30 p.m. in the choir room.  The public is welcome to attend.  Regular School Board meetings are usually held on the third Monday of each month, but this month’s was rescheduled due to conflicts.  The board’s workshops are held the first Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the elementary school conference room; next month’s is set for Monday, March 2.  For more information, call 507-346-7276 or log onto the Kingsland website at