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BOYCEVILLE — In anticipation of a large audience, the Boyceville Board of Education’s monthly meeting held last Wednesday, April 21 was moved from its usually spot in the high school/middle school IMC (Instructional Media Center) to the gymatorium.
The change in venue was made so that the board and administration could accommodate a larger number of people that they believed would be attending due to concerns, for and against, the school district’s current mask or face covering protocol.
But as it turned out, it was much ado about nothing.
Although there were slightly more people in attendance than normal, most were the top honor students for Boyceville’s Class of 2021 accompanied by their parents, there to be recognized by the board for their academic achievements.
No audience member spoke a word about the district’s face covering protocol, either during the visitor’s comment section at the beginning of the meeting or later during the board’s discussion of the matter.
When it came time to do the monthly re-evaluation of that policy, toward the end of the evening’s agenda, it was Superintendent Nick Kaiser that carried the bulk of the conversion regarding the district’s continued trajectory concerning required masking in the district’s buildings.
“Each meeting the last few months per our policy we have been reviewing our face covering protocol,” Kaiser began. “The past few months that we have been reviewing it, we have still been under a state mandate.”
That mandate ended after the board’s March meeting.
“When the mandate was up, we chose to update ours and keep things as is which was wearing masks for staff, students and visitors and continuing until we could get to a board meeting to review it again.”
Kaiser told the board that no action was necessary to continue with that current policy but if the board wanted to make a change a motion would be required to do so.
“My recommendation is that we have 22 days to graduation and 28 days to the end of school. I don’t see now why we would want to do something that would possibly upset that,” Kaiser stated.
“We have had an uptick (in positive COVID-19 cases) that we have had to deal with the last couple of weeks. I know other schools are dealing with that too. For 22 days, I think we can make that work,” he added.
Administrators at Tiffany Creek Elementary and the middle school/high school had both informed the board of a sudden increase in positive coronavirus cases over the previous two-week period during their reports earlier in the meeting. The numbers, however, were on the decline as of last Wednesday’s board session.
“I sure would hate to have something go wrong because when things go wrong, they go wrong really fast for a lot of kids. We are still listening to the CDC, DHS and our county health department, those recommendations from them have not changed at all for schools. And to get away from the political side of it, I have listened to both sides talk about how schools and hospitals should be following those things,” concluded Kaiser. “My recommendation is to stay as is and finish out the year and give our seniors the proper graduation that they desire after what they have had to go through.”
After some brief comments, the board voted unanimously, 4-0, to continue with the district’s current face covering protocol until the end of the school year. Due to another meeting conflict, member Peter Score, who lost his seat to newcomer Amber Carlsrud in the spring election, was absent for his final meeting on the board of education.
In keeping with the theme of graduation, high school/middle school principal Tyler Moy formally introduced the top honors students for the Class of 2021 which features four co-valedictorians and a salutatorian. Earning the distinction of co-valedictorians are Nathan Corr, Connor Sempf, Megan Olson, and Tretten Joles. Brady Helland has been named as the class salutatorian.
Moy also informed the board that plans for an in-person graduation ceremony set for 7 p.m. Friday, May 28 in the gymatorium were well underway.
He said that a letter would be mailed to all senior families the following day informing them that each graduate would be allowed to have six family members attend the graduation ceremony. Moy said that they have a plan to seat all invited family members using the bleachers and floor seating that would adhere to the school’s social distancing guidelines.
At TCE, principal DeeAnn Thompson reported that the FORWARD testing is underway with 4th and 5th grades having completed state-mandated tests with the 3rd and 6th grades to follow in the coming weeks. She noted that an end-of-the-year celebration is being planned as are “Funky Fridays” all through the month of May that will include spirit dress up days to build excitement for the final month of school.
Athletic director Brian Roemhild attended the meeting and gave an update on the spring sports teams.
The school board also made several personnel decisions approving a number of resignations and hirings.
The resignations of Corey Day as head cross country coach, Cara (Swenby) Ankney as A TCE food service worker, Angie Olson as the dance team advisor and Jacinda Fischer as the elementary guidance counselor.
Jacob Peterson was tabbed to replace Day as the new head cross country coach, Emmaly Monfort (a former Boyceville graduate) was hired as the district’s financial accountant to take the place of the retiring Sharon Formoe, Deborah Rosen was hired to teach high school English following the resignation of Tom Pamperin, Gabrielle Henry was approved as a 5th grade teacher and Jacob Maes was chosen to fill the one-year high school guidance counselor position following the board’s prior approval of a year’s leave of absence for current high school guidance counselor Karlene Berry.
A trio of donations were officially accepted by the board. The district received an $800 Physical Education COVID-19 Relief Grant consisting of a disc golf package for 3rd to 12th grade curriculum, a $1,000 donation form the recent Hay River Plunge fundraiser which is part of the Alfalfa Fest Volunteer group to be used to meet educational needs of students, and a $320 award from the Ann Marie Foundation for the purchase of Wobble Chairs and sensory toy packs for use at Tiffany Creek Elementary.
Superintendent Kaiser informed members that the USDA had extended the Universal Free Lunch program through the 2021-22 school year. This will provide every student with free daily lunches for a second straight year.
Kaiser also thanked brothers Gary and Jon Zurn for the donation of the Oak Ridge school bell.
The board also approved the administrations recommendation to add two days – August 30 and 31 – to the 2021-22 school calendar as transition days. This change would not affect the rest of the calendar, which had already been approved at a previous meeting, and would allow the district to count the two days as additional summer school days which would provide an additional revenue stream for the district.
Finally, newly elected board members Amber Carlsrud and Erik Evenson wear sworn in. Carlsrud was the top vote getter in the April 6 election while Evenson won a tie-breaker with outgoing member Pete Score to retain his seat.