School board looks toward another great year at Spring Grove Public Schools

By: 
Jordan Gerard

It’s shaping up to be a great year at Spring Grove Public Schools, as the board held its monthly meeting on Aug. 19 and took care of necessary business.

The first day of school will be Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Principal’s report

In her principal’s report, Nancy Gulbranson announced the addition of a new hour for seven to 12 grades called “Power Hour” (name subject to change). This hour would be from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., or over the lunch hour.

Students in grades seven and eight will have 30 minutes of lunch and then be assigned a homeroom where they can use the remaining time to study, work collectively as a class or talk to teachers during their office hours.

Students in grades nine to 12 have a little more flexibility, as they can choose to eat lunch first, then study, go to a teacher’s office hours or do a band lesson. Or they can eat lunch last after completing what they need to do (band lesson, officer hours and so on). 

“This will take the place of study hall, but in the long run it will be better for our kids to choose where to go,” Gulbranson said. “Our kids will be out in the real world soon, especially the seniors, where they can choose what to do with their time.”

It’s a good way of letting students practice time management, she added. 

Another addition for the seniors this year was the board allowing them to have open campus five days a week, meaning they can walk up town to eat lunch Monday through Friday. 

“Let’s give them a little autonomy. Can they handle that time?” Gulbranson said. 

Most seniors eat lunch at school and then go up town for a bit, she added. Gulbranson said she couldn’t see it affecting the lunch program too badly, if at all. 

The same rules apply to open campus lunch as last year, in the fact that to get a lunch permit, students must have a maximum of three or fewer absences per quarter, no tardy detentions, no Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL), no discipline referrals, not on academic probation/ineligibility and no F grades at the end of the quarter. Any violations will result in a nine-week suspension of the student’s lunch permit. 

In other news, Schoology, EduClimber and JMC were all renewed for the school year, allowing test tracking, parents keeping track of grades and payments and students’ ability to receive assignments from teachers. 

Gulbranson added when new families come to the district, they will be able to fill out forms electronically.

She also announced Kinder Prep Academy was off to a good start. This year’s kindergarten class will have three sections.

Superintendent’s report

Superintendent Rachel Udstuen said the street construction project in front of the school was nearly complete. Sod should be laid in last week and the overlay will be poured next spring, in order to allow the first layer of pavement to settle.

Because of the sod overlay, the board will have a few extra expenses in order to grade the lawn the correct way and plant shrubs. 

The handicapped sidewalk entrance at the front of the school should also be finished as well, she added. 

Finally, Udstuen announced she would work in the office on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the option to swap Mondays and Wednesdays. 

She will also be teaching an English course this semester, due to the addition of Gina Meinertz as a transformational leader who will be handling curriculum at school (formerly a duty of Udstuen’s). 

Personnel hires

The School Board made several hires on Monday night, including Lori Stoen and Taylor Elton as paraprofessionals and Blaine Storlie as an elementary special education teacher.

They increased art teacher Renee Eiken’s contract, due to two sections of seventh grade and two additional elementary art sections.

Kody Moore also received an increase in his contract for a physical education teaching position and ALC (flexible learning year).

Adri Fisher received an adjustment in her contract, allowing her to teach special education full time and social studies part time.

Janet Sand was again approved as head cook, with a wage increase that will match her responsibilities during the school year and year-round. 

Other news

The board approved adult and non-program lunch and breakfast prices for 2019-2020. There was no change from last year, which leaves the breakfast price at $1.80 and lunch at $3.75.

The 2019-2020 student handbook was approved, with a few minor changes. The biggest change was language added to the school’s tobacco policy, which now defines e-cigarettes as “electronic delivery devices.”

The board approved the sports cooperative agreement with Caledonia. Caledonia proposed a flat-rate per sport and looked to increase the activity fee by two percent if three schools are cooperated into one sport (e.g.: Caledonia/Spring Grove/Houston for soccer).

The fee will increase across the board, whether two or schools participate in the sport. There is a rate for two schools and a smaller rate for three schools.

This agreement is effective for one year, in order to get Houston and Spring Grove in the same negotiating cycle with Caledonia.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Spring Grove School Board will be held Monday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. in the Media Center (which will also be called the Learning Resource Center this year).