School Board schedules SAC program, hires three teachers

By: 
Jordan Gerard

The Spring Grove School Board, at its meeting on May 20, had good feedback from parents about starting a school-age childcare program this summer at the school in partnership with The Little Gnome Daycare.

Superintendent Rachel Udstuen thanked board members Kelly Rohland and Jenny Stender for their work on starting the program. The Little Gnome will also lease space from the school to oversee the program. 

Final details and information will be sent to parents soon. Udstuen said the move was a “win-win” for the school and daycare center.

New hires, resignations

The board approved three hires for elementary teachers next year. Stacey Schultz will teach kindergarten, Heather Strand will teach sixth grade and Teala Heddlesten will be a new special education teacher, primarily working with the secondary levels.

The board also approved three resignations, including one from special education teacher Jennifer Wedmann. 

Wedmann has been on medical leave since last February and is officially resigning to focus on her health. She also filled in as a science substitute teacher and helped wherever needed.

Dave Konz resigned from his position as the junior varsity boys basketball coach after 23 years. Konz would like more time to follow his kids in their athletic activities.

Finally, Sarah Tollefsrud resigned as junior high girls basketball coach to follow her kids in their activities as well.

All resignations and hires were approved.

Principal’s report

Principal Nancy Gulbranson said field trip season for the elementary grades would be starting soon, including trips to the National Owl Center, Niagara Cave, Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, Historic Forestville in Preston and more.

Testing season is almost complete. Juniors who did not take the ACT test will take the Accuplacer test.

She also said Grandparents Day and Academic Excellence went well. Student honorees for graduation were announced: Rhiannon Skauge is valedictorian, Kendra Waldenberger is salutatorian and Alyssa Johnson and Maria Myrah are honor students.

Summer academy will be held in July again with a full line of teachers ready to help students. 

Chris Deck will teach a 2-3-4 grades multi-age classroom starting next school year. Jill Bjerke will continue her K-1 classroom.

Assessment Days will return next school year, with elementary students preparing to return to the classroom.

Elementary grades will also host their second annual color run on May 31. Despite the rain last year, kids still had fun running through cloudbursts of color. They requested to do it again this year.

Last year 100 T-shirts were sold and proceeds from those sales went to Shelly Anderson, who was battling cancer at the time. 

Gulbranson noted that day is the last day for seniors and that seniors should refrain from driving near the baseball field and Roverud Park since elementary students will be running there. 

Finally, Gulbranson asked for feedback from the elementary music concert’s new schedule. This year featured a 15-minute intermission after third graders performed in order to allow younger kids to go home earlier.

Board members said they heard good feedback about it, but also that an improvement would be having parents collect their kids at the classrooms instead of the gym.

Superintendent’s report

Udstuen announced Spring Grove Public Schools was selected for Amazon Future Engineer Program, which provides curriculum and instructors to teach classes in computer science, such as coding, programming or other similar courses. 

“It’s a fun way for us to get courses that we don’t have someone certified to teach,” she said. 

Spring Grove does need to provide a teacher in the classroom who has a passion or interest in computer science. Chris Strinmoen and Shelly Anderson will oversee that program. Strinmoen is teaching an elective computer programming class, which will have an AP option. Anderson will incorporate elements of the engineer program into the 10th grade computer applications course.

Udstuen noted a change to the 2019-2020 calendar, which was that Thanksgiving is Nov. 28 and not Nov. 21, as it was printed on the calendar. 

Board member Stephanie Jaster and board chair Aaron Solum will be School Board representatives at the graduation ceremony on Sunday, June 2, at 2 p.m. in the gymnasium.

Udstuen also brought a window artwork proposal from ???. Athletic Director Shelly Anderson was working with that company on different door designs for old and new lobby entrances.

Student Council members saw the designs and immediately liked them. If the board were to approve the design, the council would pledge $750 toward it, leaving the board to pay the remaining $500.

However, Head of Maintenance Brent Messner said the wraps do not allow for police or passersby to see into the school and check on it (making sure no one is causing mischief). 

The security lights would not be visible after the wrap was applied, and those help prevent theft, Messner added.

Board members also wondered if that area of the school would be too dark after the wrap was applied. The board decided to table the matter until next month.

Udstuen announced an official Minnesota State High School League dance team could be started at Spring Grove. 

Anderson had relayed there was a lot of interest for it. Nothing is official yet, but the conversation is happening.

Finally, Udstuen brought an updated total cost for two state football trips (2017 and 2018) and one state basketball trip (2019). The cost is $29,000, which also does not include state trips for FFA and Knowledge Bowl.

The district recently received a $5,000 donation from the Spring Grove Athletic Boosters to offset those costs. 

“Every bit that anyone donates to that helps,” she said. 

Other news

The board made an official resolution approving their choice of the snow days relief bill. The district chose to make one of the snow days an instructional day.

The annual Q Comp report was approved, as submitted by coordinator Dave Konz. Q Comp is “quality compensation,” which gives teachers a monetary bonus from the state if they complete the goals they set. 

Udstuen said the report showed the district should focus on improving their Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) math scores.

“We didn’t love our math scores this year, but we still felt that the continuous improvement process and other strategies were helpful to students,” Udstuen said. 

The board approved a quote from Mr. Carpet for $4,903.06 to replace the tile flooring in the kitchen. The flooring will go on top of 2 layers of tile. The bottom layer has asbestos, a new layer of tile was put on top of that a long time ago which does not have asbestos, Udstuen clarified.

A safety inspection told the district there were cracks in the flooring, which led to the replacement. That amount might be able to come out of the school’s kitchen budget, upon approval from the state.

Finally, the board approved an agreement with Winneshiek Medical Center’s Jess Morken for sports medicine and athletic training services for $1,615.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Spring Grove School Board will be held June 17, at 7 p.m. in the Media Center.