School Board gets updates on training, budget, structures

Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Chatfield’s School Board gathered for its February meeting last Wednesday evening, hearing updates on the district’s students, staff and activities taking place in each school building.

Superintendent Ed Harris shared with the board that he and new member Rick Lowrey had attended school board training sessions and that he appreciated Lowrey’s contribution to the board’s betterment. 

Harris also outlined for the board that a budget workshop held on Jan. 22 may require a continuation so that the board can properly plan for the coming school year. The board chose to set another meeting for Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. in order to carry out business before the March regular board meeting. 

Structure updates

Building new structures was also part of Harris’s list of report items. 

“The outside storage shed – we have plans or drawings that we’re working on, and we want to contact local contractors,” he said. “The money we’re using is reserve from the construction plan. When we talk about the budget, it’s difficult because of (an operating funds disparity) and building a shed.” 

Board member Matt McMahon clarified for the board and those who were watching the live streaming of the meeting on CCTV that money earmarked for construction cannot be shifted to pay for operating costs. 

The board knew that when the new swimming pool was constructed, the old shed that stood where the edge of the pool parking lot is would need to be replaced, and Harris remarked that he would keep the board posted on planning. 

Financial matters

Harris introduced a new policy for the acceptance of gifts from individuals and the community for school lunch account balances that have become negative, as Pioneer Presbyterian Church has given $1,600 to amend student lunch balances. The superintendent thanked Pioneer Presbyterian for its thoughtfulness. 

The board approved the annual $5,000 CCTV streaming payment to the city of Chatfield for CCTV’s airing the school’s activities and meetings,

Harris explained that the $5,000 being paid to the city of Chatfield for CCTV is separate from the $15,000 that the board authorized during the January meeting in that the $5,000 pays for the actual streaming of school activities and meetings and the $15,000 pays for other necessary expenses. 

School reports

Harris also talked about the 2020-2021 school calendar, as there are only four months of school left in the 2019-2020 school year. He highlighted that there were few changes and that most changes involved moving staff development time from January to February.   

Chatfield Elementary School Principal Shane McBroom reported that the sixth graders have begun their DARE education with Chatfield police officer Kevin Landorf and that the elementary staff and administration appreciates that Landorf makes himself available and visible outside of DARE so that students are accustomed to seeing a police officer and understand that they are people who can help in emergencies. 

He cited that the Math Wizards extracurricular math competition team would be hosting a meet and that the Academic Triathlon team would be hosting a second home meet. 

He also recognized school counselor Jenna Dokken, as this past week was School Counselors’ Week. 

The board also extended its appreciation to high school counselor Sara Duxbury, who had served at the elementary school for quite some time but was moved to the high school at the beginning of this school year.

McBroom and high school principal Randy Paulson thanked the paraprofessionals who assist classroom teachers every day, as Paraprofessionals’ Week had also taken place in late January. 

McBroom concluded by noting that the students have NWEA standardized tests on their calendars.

Paulson related in his report that this week is Snow Week at the high school and that high school students will have their Snow Ball dance this weekend. Also, the Delta group and one-act play students have chosen to collaborate in an assembly to present to their classmates, as the one-act play thespians suffered too many cases of illness and the show was unable to go on. 

“They had to forfeit before subsections because a lot of the kids got sick, so this is their chance to present it to the public,” he said.

Paulson stated that data from grades gathered from ninth through 12th grade shows that there are few, if any, students failing their classes, and he commended the staff for their hard work. 

“We’ve made a lot of progress,” he said.  “The seventh period Flex Time leaves a lot of time for make-up and tutoring.” 

The principal also spoke of how the district has had difficulty finding someone qualified to serve as a certified instructor for the Students Learning Advanced Manufacturing (SLAM) science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program that the district shares with the Cannon Falls school district, but that retired engineer Lyle Dietz has agreed to be that individual.     

The consent agenda included approving the minutes of the Jan. 8 meeting and of the Jan. 22 special meeting, the junior class raffle and the yearbook fundraisers.