Chatfield School Board revisits topic of possible coaching, board member conflict

By : 

The Chatfield School Board settled into its new meeting place, the forum room at Chatfield High School (CHS), while holding its October meeting there last Monday, Oct. 22.

Board members revisited the topic of board members being able to — or not able to — be part of the school board and coach a school sports team as well. The topic came up during the August meeting when someone again questioned chairman Jerry Chase’s request to coach the softball team.

That meeting resulted in the board having a heated debate on whether the district would be losing a talented coach or a school board member — each of which is hard to find in a small town — and Chase submitting his resignation from the school board as of Jan. 1, 2019, to focus on coaching softball.

During the October meeting, Chase commented, “I really think we need to have a policy here and get it squared away…Matt McMahon will be the third person on the board who’s coaching. I think there are things we need to talk about…in small communities, we’re having trouble filling positions. So where are we going with this?”

Superintendent Ed Harris pointed out that teaching and coaching contracts should not be in competition with one another or tied so closely together, and he asked the board if its membership would have him draft a policy to deal with the ongoing difficulties the Board members have experienced while attempting to fulfill their duties and be available to coach if they choose. The conversation is ongoing.

Administrative reports

Harris told the Board the proposed high school renovation open house originally set for Nov. 8 has been rescheduled to Thursday, Nov. 29, because of his unavailability on Nov. 8. He stated construction is winding down, with the exception of the wall surrounding the building’s power infrastructure at the front door — due to a change in materials.

Elementary Principal Shane McBroom shared that the school’s bell system has been adjusted by six minutes so students are not released until 2:55, eliminating that time spent waiting for the buses to roll away from the curb.

He observed that parent-teacher conferences had been well attended, with approximately 95 percent of parents stopping in at the elementary to check in with their children’s teachers.

Additionally, the students were visited by firefighters from the Chatfield Fire Department who invited them to attend the department’s Fire Prevention Week open house on Oct. 11 and let them see a fire truck.

Chatfield Police Officer Kevin Landorf has been visiting the school on Wednesdays to be better-acquainted with students and spends some time teaching first graders basic tenets of Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education (DARE) long before they’re sixth graders receiving their DARE graduation certificates.

High School Principal Randy Paulson gave his report, congratulating Chatfield High School science instructor Nora Gathje for being chosen as the 2018 recipient of the Minnesota Science Teachers Association (MnSTA) Teacher of the Year Award.

He went on to add that Gathje is also responsible for an upcoming activity at the high school, as the school has been chosen as the test screening site for National Geographic’s new movie, “Science Fair,” on Friday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. in the forum before it is released to theatres. The district is awaiting the final approval, but if the event takes place that evening, admission will be free.

As a special presentation, Gathje’s “Green Team” environmental science recycling team highlighted their plans to use the grant funding that she will be awarded at the MnSTA conference in early November to educate students and staff on the importance of recycling within the schools.

Paulson then related that CHS is applying for the Rural Advanced Manufacturing Academy Hub (RAMAH) project, along with Cannon Falls High School and Southeast Technical College in Winona, to provide advanced manufacturing education to students in the region.

He also noted the first fire drill held in the renovated school went well, that the seventh hour of the school day is used as flex time period during which students may request to participate in a school activity or be called to a teacher’s classroom for tutoring or testing — and that paraprofessional Crystal Smith will be overseeing attendance procedures for flex time.

Community Education Coordinator LuAnn Klevan thanked the Board for allowing her to move from the high school to the elementary, as she’s found it very useful to be closer to the preschool and ValleyLand programs that have required her attention. She added that ValleyLand is seeking after-school staff to assist lead staff member Sue Tangen in managing all the students who are enrolled in the school-aged childcare (SACC) program.

Next, tech integration specialist Kristi Cook gave a quick update on things happening in her department — namely, the district’s test-drive of virtual reality hardware and training of staff so that later that same day, students got to use the equipment.

“It uses Google Expedition, and teachers literally guide students through things in virtual reality,” Cook explained. “I think it’s going to get used in here a lot. We are also doing a lot of personalized learning — we’re now able to personalize learning because of the tech we have, and we’re starting to work on digital citizenship this week in third grade.”

The consent agenda included approving 2018-2019 school year seniority list, the resignations of elementary paraprofessional Jennifer Biers and seventh grade basketball coach Ryan Kivimagi, as well as the job postings of elementary paraprofessional and basketball coach. It also included hiring Matt McMahon as ninth grade volleyball coach, Krista Schild as an elementary paraprofessional, assistant coaches Kyle Tollefson and Scott Schmaltz for girls’ basketball; Ryan Eppen, Matt Davidson, Damien Nickels and Josh Berhow for boys’ basketball; Matt Mauseth and Zach Curry for wrestling, and Brenda Nelson for dance.