Potential changes to music program, School Board springs for new scoreboard

Jordan Gerard/SGH Two weeks ago there were walls and office items still lingering in the Spring Grove Public Schools district office. Last week, all the wires were hanging out, literally. The district office will be moved to the space below the library, while this space pictured above will be the new math lab.
By : 
Jordan Gerard

A few facets of the music program at Spring Grove Public School could see some changes for the 2018-19 school year.

In her principal’s report, Nancy Gulbranson said decisions were not final, but the conversation is important to have. She met with vocal instructor Bethany Engen and instrumental instructor Willy Leafblad.

Elementary grades kindergarten through fourth grade would decrease to three times a week for music class, which would allow Engen more time for choir lessons at the high school level. The fifth and sixth grade schedule would not change.

The annual elementary music program at the end of the year would feature kindergarten through fifth grade. It could also feature a 15-minute intermission to allow families with younger children to leave after their child has performed, as the night is a long one. 

The sixth graders’ big performance would be their annual musical in January. After the musical is finished, sixth graders would continue learning standard music lessons such as rhythms, counting and reading music.

“They spend a lot of time and energy preparing for the play and that’s their big performance,” Gulbranson said. “The motivation to get excited about the elementary program has waned a bit.”

As for the Junior High Solo/Ensemble Festival, band and choir would be split into two separate events, one of the main reasons being it’s hard to share accompanists and get everyone shuffled to the right spots. 

Engen would like to hold the choir solo/ensemble in November and Leafblad would hold the band solo/ensemble in May.

Superintendent Rachel Udstuen said it would mean big changes.

“It’s a significant change from what we’ve done for a long time, but we’re going to make things work with the teachers we have,” she said. 

With lower elementary grades moving to three times a week for music class, it’s not a total loss in their music education. The goal is to build enthusiasm for the program. 

Though nothing has been officially decided, board members liked to the idea. The schedule for the sixth grade musical also works for a high school to direct the production as part of a class.

Board member Brad Hernandez said the sixth graders not participating in the elementary program helps them transition out of the elementary phase of education. 

Student representative Gavin Thorson said the idea made sense to him, because the sixth graders can concentrate more energy and focus on one production. 

New scoreboard

Udstuen reported the scoreboard at the Blayne Onsgard Memorial Field (city park) was in need of replacement. The current one is more than 18 years old and was donated from Pepsi Co. As Pepsi no longer donates scoreboards, the need for a new one before the first game of the football season is urgent.

Aim Electronics offered three options for a new one. The board approved the new one for $16,174, which is wireless and comes with a baseball overlay that will let the scoreboard change from football (Downs, To Go, Quarter, etc.) to baseball (Strikes, Balls, Fouls, etc.).

“There’s been enough band aids and rigging it,” District Accountant Tanya Elton said. “Every Friday afternoon, someone would come tell us that it works and we’d all be relieved.”

Though the current one is wireless, the two components are not talking to each other. Teacher Chris Deck and Athletic Director Shelly Anderson have been “champions of making it work,” Udstuen said. Local electricians have looked at it, but to no avail.

The board also suggested asking the city to help pay for it, as its used by them for summer events. It was also suggested to ask businesses to donate money and have their logo placed by the scoreboard.

Superintendent’s report

In her superintendent’s report, Udstuen said 12 teachers, board member Thomas Trehus, Gulbranson and herself would attend a Bush Foundation meeting with their grant team. The district was previously awarded $150,000 to dive deep into individualized learning.

The purpose is to update the team and to showcase Spring Grove as an example for other schools to see what the district is doing for individualized learning.

She also announced she was graduating from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) cohort program that she had been enrolled in for about a year. 

The program is an organization that “serves as the national voice for public education and district leadership on Capitol Hill,” according to its website.

“It’s that depth of study that I feel I am missing right now,” Udstuen said in January 2017. 

She talked to two other superintendents from Minnesota schools. They told her, “It was the best experience they ever received.”

The cost of the program is $6,000 but with travel and lodging for several nights in Chicago, New Orleans and Tennessee, the board estimated it would cost about $8,300 for Udstuen to attend.

In exchange for this program, Udstuen did not attend other conferences for school administrators except for the Minnesota School Board Association, because that was a Minnesota-based conference.

At the end of her report, Udstuen announced the district received a resolution from the Minnesota Senate congratulating them on a 100 percent graduation rate. That statistic will have a positive impact on the school’s six year graduation rate, as defined in their World’s Best Workforce goals.

Fiscal report

In the fiscal report, the board approved 13 items with little or no changes.

The bonding for 2018-19 is $50,000 for clerk/treasurer; $50,000 for financial secretary; and $12,500 for individual staff.

Hot lunch prices for students will be $2.60 for K-six; $2.70 for seven-12; and $0.35 for milk. Adult prices are to be determined.

Breakfast prices are $1 for K-12, $1.75 for adults and $0.35 for milk.

Participation fees were not changed from last year. Athletic fees are $40 for grades seven and eight in all sports and $50 for grades nine-12 in all sports, with the exception of cheerleading, which is $25.

Spring Grove will honor its family cap of $180, even if Caledonia High School’s athletic fee is higher.

Those wishing to participate in co-op sports with Caledonia will pay $70 for grades seven and eight in all sports (soccer, wrestling, gymnastics and track), and $100 for grades nine-12 in all sports.

Other activity fees for Spring Grove are $15 for grades seven-12 in speech, Knowledge Bowl, Jazz Band, Select Choir, school play/musical and color guard (non-band). The family cap for activity fees is $70.

Band fees were tabled until the August meeting.

Athletic admission fees for 2018-19 were approved with no changes. The charge for home games, junior varsity/varsity is $3 for students and seniors (65+) and $5 for adults. A year-long pass is $30 for students, $65 for adults and $20 for seniors.

Out-of-State Tuition Rates will be $6,000 for grades K-12, which is an increase from $1,500 for K-six and $2,000 for seven-12. 

The board receives $6,000 for each pupil that is enrolled in the district. However, out-of-state students are not paid for by Minnesota unless there’s an agreement across state lines with school districts.

Students can get a legal guardian in Minnesota so they don’t have to pay the out-of-state tuition and Spring Grove would receive the $6,000 for that student. 

Board salaries will be $1,000 a year for the board chair, $700 for board directors, $300 per negotiating cycle for each negotiator and for out of district meetings: $25 for up to four hours, $50 for four to six hours and $100 for more than eight hours.

Merchants Bank in Spring Grove was approved for the bank depository. That bank along with Eitzen State Bank (ESB) in Eitzen, Bank of the West in Mabel and Caledonia, New Albin State Bank in New Albin, Iowa and the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) Liquid Asset Fund were all approved as official depositories for 2018-19.

The Spring Grove Herald was approved as the official school newspaper.

Bimbo Bakeries were approved for bread products and Kemps was approved for milk products.

The 10-Year Long-Term Facilities Maintenance Plan was unanimously approved by resolution. This allows the school to see which projects money is spent on, such as the work being done this summer for the school redesign.

Personnel report

Taylor Elton was approved as the assistant junior high girls volleyball coach.

Construction subcontractors

The board approved seven subcontractors for work on the school redesign construction project.

Hoskins Electric was approved for $xx. They are retrofitting LEDs, which saved the district about $20xx. Hoskins will also handle the rebate paperwork for the school.

Midwest Ceilings of La Crosse, Wisconsin was awarded the bid for ceiling work for $12,838.

Kendell Doors and La Crosse Glass Company, Inc. are going together on the bid for windows and doors. Kendell’s bid was $25,508 and La Crosse Glass’s bid was $10,340.

A. Allen Construction will do the exterior work for $30,500, including demolition, new retaining walls, stairs and more. Because this company is already the main contractors for the project, they won’t pay the eight percent fee on their own work. The fee for their construction manager is eight percent of the overall project cost.

The board also approved a template for a standard agreement between the owner (Spring Grove School District) and the contractor (A. Allen Construction). The template will be modified for each sub-contractor.

Other news

The board approved a first reading of the Minnesota School Board Association policy revisions.

The board also approved several policies including out-of-state travel by board members, family and medical leave policy and internet acceptable use and safety policy.

Again for the 2018-19 school year, the board approved the membership of several organizations including MSBA, Southeast Service Cooperative, Hiawatha Valley Education District, Minnesota Rural Education Association, Region V Finance and Minnesota State High School League (passed by unanimous resolution).

Next meeting

A special meeting was held on Monday, July 23 for the purpose of approving more quotes for the school redesign.

The next regular meeting of the Spring Grove School Board will be held Monday, Aug. 20, at 7 p.m. in the Media Center.