Superintendent reports on construction progress during School Board meeting

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The Chatfield School Board gathered in a classroom to hold the July meeting on Monday, July 16, as Superintendent Ed Harris reported that renovation of the high school is in progress, on time and on budget and will allow for students to return as scheduled at the beginning of the coming school year.

“Construction . . . we’ve got seven weeks to go, and we’re on schedule. We will be ready for kids, but some things will be finished in September,” Harris said. “There’s a lot of landscaping and sod to be done, so it will take a little bit to get the finished polish on the school.”

Principal search

One of the foremost matters to deal with was the search for a new elementary principal, as longtime elementary principal Craig Ihrke submitted his resignation so he can become superintendent in Caledonia’s school district.

Harris outlined that a principal search committee is forming, that there are approximately 15 people on it, and there could be as many as 20 candidates submitting resumes for the position.

The superintendent thanked Ihrke for his 11 years of service to the Chatfield district. “I think Craig served the district for 11 years, and he’s leaving some pretty big shoes to fill,” he added.

High school principal Randy Paulson concurred that Ihrke had done well for the district, and he expressed his wishes for Ihrke’s future. “I want to wish him well. I think he’ll be a great fit for Caledonia,” Paulson said.

Alternative learning program

Conversation turned to how the district’s alternative learning program (ALP) is proceeding in comparison to programs found in alternative learning centers (ALC), as the Hiawatha Valley Education District (HVED) is examining how to designate resources for ALCs as a means of properly providing for students’ educational needs.

Harris acknowledged that Chatfield’s ALP was developed as the result of HVED relocating its ALC from Dover-Eyota to Kellogg, making it too far a distance for Chatfield students to travel to school each day. Paulson added that while Chatfield’s ALP is faring well due to the quality of staff overseeing students, there remains the occasional need for an ALC’s services.

Superintendent report

Harris reported that the district is considering a site survey carried out by Wendell Companies because of the decision by the city council to go to voters this past May 8 for a new swimming pool.

The city’s existing and new swimming pool are on school property, but the new pool will be relocated to the southwest corner of the property, making way for a parking lot to be built on the site of the existing pool.

Harris went on to cite that the school board’s safety committee is discussing being trained in how to react to an active shooter or intruder at school so board members have a better understanding of the tenets of ALICE training being used in classrooms for that purpose.

Next, he stated, “The kindergarten class is small this year, right at 50. We average the mid-60s, and our budget is based on enrollment, so that’s not favorable for us. Currently, we plan to maintain three sections of kindergarten,” Harris added.

Other business

New business encompassed approving the district’s 2019 long term facilities maintenance (LTFM) plan that outlines what the district has in store for its building improvements or maintenance for the coming decade and why.

The Board approved Harris’s three-year superintendent contract.

The Board renewed the district’s participation in purchasing education services for the 2019 school year from HVED.

The board acknowledged and expressed appreciation for the adjusted amount of donations and grants received by the district and its students through the 2017-2018 school year, noting that a total of $33,994.27 had been given for the betterment of Chatfield’s students.

 The consent agenda included approving employee activity passes for the 2018-2019 school year, hiring Kirk Affeldt as junior high football coach, Tom Bance as assistant varsity football coach, Josh Berhow for junior varsity, Kyle Tollefson for ninth grade football, Bryan Neis for junior high football, Kathy Bernard for junior varsity volleyball, Nikki Ostby for eighth grade volleyball, April McBroom for seventh grade volleyball, and Jayna Harstad as cross country assistant.

Resignations came from varsity softball coach Mark Eickhoff and elementary principal Ihrke. Postings for those positions were approved.

The Board approved 2018-2019 fundraisers for dance line and football — the dance team will host bingo at the VFW next month.

 The Chatfield school board holds its regular monthly meetings the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the high school, unless otherwise posted. The public is welcome to attend.

District summer office hours are Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information, log onto the Chatfield school website at