Spring brings more construction, plenty of activity to Chatfield school

By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Chatfield News

The Chatfield School Board held its April meeting in a temporary conference room last Monday, April 16, due to the high school media center being demolished as part of the ongoing renovation project.

Spring brings numerous activities at the school, and in spite of the inches-deep snow outside, board members and administration had plenty on which to report, including prom, the weather-induced inability to squeeze in ballgames on the baseball field, sophomore Isaac Rain’s impending trip to the state History Day competition, MCA testing, staff resignations, construction progress and more.

Board members approved the resignations of teachers Angela Wiegmann and Tiffany Wilkie, and principals Randy Paulson and Craig Ihrke and superintendent Ed Harris expressed their appreciation to them for their dedication to the district. The trio also noted as well the retirement of longtime Chatfield history and social studies instructor Tom Hilgren, which was approved during the March meeting.

Harris commented, “I hate to see them go, but we wish them luck.”

Paulson stated, “I want to thank Tom Hilgren for his 25 years of service. He has gone above and beyond.”

Harris went on to cite that staffing and budgeting reviews are being made to determine how their vacant positions should be filled, given that Chatfield’s school district is small and needs to run as efficiently as possible to maintain its academic excellence.

Construction update

In construction news, Harris remarked that the kitchen commons was demolished in early March and that walls are now being put back, though not in the same places.

Furthermore, the bid for the large white shed that stands on the parcel on which the new swimming pool is to be built was awarded to Larry Predmore, and the shed will be removed sometime in the coming months.

He concluded, “I want to thank the staff and teachers for doing a great job of (adapting) while construction is going on.”


High School Principal Paulson congratulated Rain for his hard work on his History Day project and wished him well at the state competition.

Paulson went on to list that MCA standardized testing has been happening, that final plans for prom and post-prom celebrations are in the works, that representatives from Fillmore County’s social services and law enforcement presented information to students on the consequences of sexting.

He also noted the high school’s students and staff held three drills in one day — tornado, lockdown and fire — because of a rare sunny afternoon and the students had requested to hold both the lockdown and fire drills on the same day to prepare themselves in case there ever is a need to navigate both.

Elementary Principal Ihrke stated that Wilkie will be “tough to replace” and thanked her for her six years of service to Chatfield’s littlest students. He also reported that staff at the elementary has completed “Love & Logic” training to guide students to make sensible, compassionate decisions in the classroom and on the playground.

Community Education Director LuAnn Klevan updated the board on what’s happening in her department, including that preschool registration began in March and that changes to how the program hosts parents in the classroom are possibly coming, as she examines whether to hold a parent-child activity day.

Valleyland registration began April 1 and Klevan noted there are changes to that program as well. The district must meet new regulations for government childcare assistance funding students’ parents may obtain in order to continue accepting that provision — including additional record-keeping, staff training and background checks. “My concern is where people will go for school-age child care if we don’t do this, so we’ll do the best we can to offer it,” she said.

She went on to add that the fourth through sixth graders participating in a community education production of “Alice in Wonderland” will take the stage May 17.

She also told the board the summer recreation programming is in the works and will include fishing, bowling and Camp Invention STEM camp.

Lastly, she related that her department is working to find a Rochester driver’s training school to offer classes in Chatfield because of discontinuation of classes that have been conducted by local instructors.

Other business

The Board approved the first and second readings of district policies and approved the revision of the 2017-2018 budget.

The board changed the time and date for the May meeting from Monday, May 21, at 7 p.m. to Tuesday, May 22, at 6 p.m.

Varsity and head coaches were approved: Jeff Johnson for football, Chris Frye for cross country, Brian Baum for girls’ basketball, Jeff DeBuhr to coach boys’ basketball, Travis Bartels to oversee the wrestling team and Danielle Hampel to coach the dance team. The Board approved the job posting for a high school social studies teacher.