Kingsland Board hears proposal for Junior Olympics Volleyball

Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Kingsland’s School Board dealt with several different issues during the Dec. 2 board workshop, beginning with whether Kingsland Community Education should encompass administering the Spring Valley Junior Olympic (JO) Volleyball program.

Community Education coordinator Becky Bicknese brought forward information regarding JO Volleyball’s request to be included in Kingsland’s Community Education program, primarily, she informed the board, because its board of director sought the exposure that being offered through Kingsland Community Education could afford it, and also because the program was being charged facility usage fees that were higher than the program’s board felt was feasible. Accompanying Bicknese at the workshop was Kingsland activities director Reid Olson and Kingsland business manager Amber Herbrand.

“They’re exploring…I had a parent from the JO board contact me about wanting to bring the JO program under the Community Education umbrella,” Bicknese said. “I told them that it’s going to be different if we bring it in as Community Education – you pay, you play, and it’s open to anybody, whether they’re Kingsland or Fillmore Central.”

She related that she’d contacted the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) about play requirements, as those rules would apply in the “pay and play” concept.

“Not under Community Education, we’d have to charge them to use the gym time and equipment. I was told by MSHSL that absolutely none of the high school coaching staff could be any of their coaches, regardless. The other part is I ran the numbers to see what it would look like in comparison – we currently do not have a policy that states what their rental fee would be…but it’s estimated that under Community Education, they’d save $68.75 per girl. That’s quite a savings per family.”

The Spring Valley JO organization has its own tax number and would be operating under that, but the Community Education program would function as a facilitator for the program, collecting fees from participants as it would from participants in student enrichment classes.

Kingsland Superintendent Jim Hecimovich questioned how enforcement would be carried out as related to paying and playing, or “who’s going to be the police officer?”

Bicknese stated that it was her understanding that as equal of playing time as possible would be made available and that it would be to the program’s benefit to have such.

Board Chairperson Jackie Horsman interjected, “I don’t understand why the board’s talking about this. Honestly, I don’t think you need our approval for this.”

Hecimovich pointed out that Olson and Herbrand were in the room to lend their perspectives for the technical and financial aspects of the matter.

Herbrand asked how insurance claims would register on the district’s liability and whether Kingsland would start housing “other programs that want to sidestep facility fees. Why, if they have their own tax ID, do they want to combine?”

Board member Natasha Howard said, “Are there any other programs?”

Horsman commented with some exasperation, “This is a vendor program, just like all the other vendors that Community Education uses.”

Bicknese replied to Herbrand’s question, “Anytime we can grow a partnership between Community Education and the community, it grows our Community Education and our community and brings the community into the schools.”

Conversation turned toward how entangled the district might become in the promotion of JO’s program, and Hecimovich cautioned Bicknese against conducting a survey on behalf of the organization. She stated that if a survey were to be sent out, it would be for her department’s informational purposes only and not to benefit JO Volleyball.

Horsman reiterated, “I appreciate having the heads-up…but this is not board business. We don’t need the board micro-managing the staff. We have good staff, and I think we can trust our staff.”

With that, the board assured Bicknese that she would be able to proceed with arrangements as she saw fit.

Section Avenue safety

The board also addressed the Safe Routes to School initiative and the district’s approach to student safety along busy County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 1, concurrent with Section Avenue, in front of the school.

Horsman and Hecimovich wanted to know if the board felt that further contact with the county’s highway department and the sheriff’s office would be beneficial in slowing traffic along the road to the west of the school building, and board member Tiffany Mundfrom shared some frustration: “My thought is, ‘Why has it taken this long, and why are we doing the pushing?’”

Hecimovich replied that he’d asked about the safety funding, installation of signage and sidewalks when he was still an elementary school principal here years ago and was told that the “no parking” signs installed along the roadway by the football field must first be removed. “We did that…and we got the Safe Routes money,” he said.

Board members agreed to pursue the matter further if possible so as to help establish actual safer routes for students to get to school.

Other business

Other items on the board’s list included acknowledging the need for the annual combined polling place resolution that makes way for special elections to be held in one polling place, approving the teacher seniority list — noting that Kingsland may have plenty of new instructors but also has numerous veteran teachers — and discussing what to do with the existing operating levy referendum website that will no longer serve a purpose once the tax calculator is not useful in a month’s time.

Kingsland’s School Board will hold its regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 16, at 6:30 p.m., with the annual Truth-in-Taxation hearing shortly before. The next workshop is slated for Monday, Jan. 6, at 6 p.m. in the Kingsland Elementary School conference room. The annual organizational meeting was tentatively set for the same date. The public is welcome to attend open board meetings; for more information, call 507-346-7276 or log onto the Kingsland website at