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By Cara L. Dempski
ELK MOUND – On July 26 the Elk Mound School Board approved starting the school year with several measures in place intended to mitigate the spread of the virus known as COVID – 19. Students and families should be aware masks or facial coverings will be optional on school property, but superintendent Eric Wright explained masks are still required for students while on buses or in school-owned vans. He pointed out this is a federal requirement, and is necessary for insurance and liability reasons.
Earlier in the meeting, Wright presented a preliminary budget for the 2021-22 school year, indicating the district’s “best guess” for necessary funding for the year. Right now it appears estimated revenue will be slightly less than $14 million. More information regarding local equalized property values will be available in another couple months. The levy amounts for local taxes are usually supplemented by the amount of state aid the district receives, and this year’s estimate is for approximately $8.8 million in state aid. The Board approved the preliminary budget in preparation for August’s annual meeting.
Wright also welcomed a representative from CESA 10 who is overseeing the referendum construction projects. This person indicated a substantial amount of work has been done, at both the middle school and the high school. Walls have been erected for both the new high school band room and the middle school gymnasium. Local residents could see steel beams being delivered during the week of August 19. The CESA 10 representative explained the entire track has not yet been covered in the new rubber surface due to an issue with the asphalt. He estimated much of the work would be wrapping up in September or October. He also mentioned the potential for needing to either reschedule or relocate the August 27 football game. The representative and Wright asked the public to not use the track until all work is completed on it. A doe and fawn have already left prints in the new surface.
Moundview principal Eric Hanson explained custodial staff has been working hard in that building, cleaning, painting, and doing routine maintenance in preparation for the new school year. New bathroom dividers have been installed, concrete work has been completed, and work on the secure entrance is in progress.
Hanson updated the Board on summer school in his building; he reported over 120 students attended the first session of Summer Academy and there are more than 100 signed up for the second session scheduled for August 2-13.
He also reported the District data retreat will be held August 5, and new student registration is scheduled for August 11-12. New teacher orientation will be August 17.
Teachers are expected to report for the school year starting August 24. There will be a “Welcome Back Bash” for students August 25 and 26; parent orientation day is scheduled for September 1.
Middle school principal Chris Hahn reported the June summer school program was successful, and July summer school like reading remediation and middle school volleyball were well attended.
He noted construction projects are steadily moving forward, custodians have done some painting, doing floor preparation, and are moving furniture back into classrooms from the basement.
Hahn reiterated new student registration will be held August 11-12 at Moundview. New student and fifth-grade orientation are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on August 12. There is a bus driver in-service opportunity with Paul Gasser scheduled for 8 to 11:30 a.m., August 11, in Colfax.
Band teacher, Mr. Murphy, has been teaching group lessons this summer at the middle school.
High school principal Paul Kling echoed Hanson and Hahn in saying custodians have been working hard to repair, clean, and organize the building over the summer. Projects like cleaning the floors and carpets in the library have been completed. Custodians have also started working on the gym floor and athletics areas. He expressed appreciation for the hard work the custodians continue to do to ready the building for school to start at the end of August.
District IT specialist Mike VanSlambrouk has been updating technology and preparing for the school year. Kling said the technology specialist has been working to maintain the district chromebooks in addition to purchasing new ones, as well as necessary parts.
Kling also reported several FFA members attended the state FFA convention with Ms. Dienger July 6-8. Additionally, he reported the students had a great time and were able to benefit from being at an in-person event. His report did not elaborate on specific benefits to the students.
Once the principals finished reporting on their respective buildings, the Board moved on to approving several changes to student and employee handbooks; Wright indicated many of the changes were made to better align the handbooks with statutory language.
Wright also presented district information regarding seclusion and restraint; District data indicated there were no incidents of seclusion or restraint during the 2020-21 school year.
The final agenda item prior to the Board adjourning to closed session was the legislative report; there was no information reported during the session.
During closed session the Board approved hiring Misti Belonge as a middle school math teacher. The Board also approved hiring Megan Fritz as a mental health coordinator. No decision was made regarding hiring a paraprofessional. Paola Cortese was approved to become the new freshmen volleyball coach. No decision was made regarding hiring a new middle school volleyball coach, nor was one made regarding hiring a new middle school basketball coach.
The next meeting for the Elk Mound School Board is scheduled for August 23; the annual meeting and budget hearing will be the same night, and begin at 6:45 p.m., while the regular Board meeting will be held immediately following.